the writing | handwriting is on the wall

This page is about the idiom the writing | handwriting is on the wall.

Meaning: If the writing is on the wall, or the handwriting is on the wall, there are signs that a person or organization is in trouble and might soon fail.

For example:

  • The writing has been on the wall for this government ever since the street protests and demonstrations against it first began.

  • Their old quarterback was occasionally dropped from the team early in the season, so the handwriting was on the wall even then.

Note: "The writing is on the wall" is more common in British and Australian English, while "the handwriting is on the wall" is more common in American English.

Quick Quiz:

The writing had been on the wall for a few months, so no-one was surprised when the restaurant

a. finally closed down

b. closed for renovations

c. opened a second branch

Idiom of the Day

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Contributor: Matt Errey