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27 Nov. What does the English expression “hot potato mean?”

If you hear someone describing something as a “hot potato” and you have never heard of this expression you may be a little confused! However, worry no longer! Once you have read this article you will understand when and how to use it as well as why it is used in the first place!


A subject is described as a “hot potato” when it is very current and usual often rather controversial. In general, it is something which is hotly disputed and a subject over which people have very differing opinions.


The expression was first used in the 1800s as a progression of the previously used term “to drop like a hot potato.” The reasoning behind the use of this expression is the fact that potatoes have a high water content and therefore they remain hot for a long period of time. The use of the word “hot” also refers to the adjective “hotly” which is generally used with the verb “to debate.”


An example of the expression in use can be found in a Michael Jackson quote. He stated “one day my dad said, “If you guys ever stop singing, I’ll drop you like a hot potato.” That’s what he said. It hurt me. You don’t say that to children and I never forgot it.”

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