Stephanie in Green Bay, Wisconsin, was puzzled when a colleague used the expression like grabbing a wolf by the ears to describe an impossible task. Like the idiom to have a tiger by the tail, it suggests the paralyzing difficulty of having hold of a dangerous beast. The Roman playwright Terence expressed the same idea with auribus teneo lupum, or “I have a wolf by the ears.” Thomas Jefferson used the phraseWe have a wolf by the ears in a letter about slavery. This is part of a complete episode.

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