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nip it in the bud

Meaning: If you nip something in the bud, you stop a problem from becoming serious by dealing with it as soon as you notice it.

For example:

  • Alan has a serious weight problem. Now he wishes he'd nipped it in the bud by eating less and exercising more when he was first starting to put on weight.

  • I was starting to drink too much alcohol, so I nipped it in the bud and stopped drinking altogether before it became a serious problem.

Origin: This is a metaphorical idiom based on the fact that if you want to stop a plant from growing bigger, you can cut off the new leaf buds or flower buds, or "nip the buds".

Quick Quiz:

Jules and Clive were starting to have problems in their marriage, so they decided to nip the problem in the bud and
  1. get a divorce
  2. get some counselling
  3. pretend it wasn't happening

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