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throw someone in at the deep end

Meaning: If you throw someone in at the deep end, you give them a difficult job to do, or a serious problem to deal with, before they have the knowledge or experience for it.

For example:

  • In her first overseas teaching job, Kathy was thrown in at the deep end with a class of 30 kids and no training, no books, and no guidelines.

  • Our manager thinks the best way to introduce new staff to the job is to throw them in at the deep end and see how they go.

Origin: Metaphorical. Probably related to the fact that swimming pools usually have a deep end and a shallow end. If someone is thrown in at the deep end, they'll drown unless they manage to get to the side of the pool.

Quick Quiz:

Our new cook Wendy was thrown in at the deep end on her first day when she had to
  1. cook breakfast for a family of eight
  2. cater for a seminar of 200 people
  3. take the afternoon off

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