a bundle of joy

Wen-Hsiung Tseng

New Member
Chinese - Taiwan
Hello!

I was doing my English homework (translating sentences into Chinese) and we learned the phrasal verb "mess up". The illustrative sentence for "mess up" is "You've got a bundle of joy on your hands trying to clean that mess up." and I don't know what is "a bundle of joy" that can be on your hands. Can you help me to understand it?
 
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    "on your hands" means something you have to do, something you're responsible for.

    In this case, a "bundle of joy" is a sarcastic way of describing an unpleasant chore. However, I have never heard this usage. The classic "bundle of joy" is a new baby.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    In this case, a "bundle of joy" is a sarcastic way of describing an unpleasant chore. However, I have never heard this usage. The classic "bundle of joy" is a new baby.
    Yes. The sentence asked about seems strange. I wonder who wrote it. "A bundle of joy" is such a set phrase that it seems an unlikely sentence from a native English speaker.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Just to muddy the waters a little bit here, the phrasal verb in the original question scenario isn't "mess up": it's surely "clean up". In the example sentence "[that] mess" is actually the direct object, not part of a phrasal verb.

    But otherwise I agree with the consensus that although "bundle of joy" just about works on a facetious level, it's so commonly associated with new baby that I don't think a native speaker would have used it there. All in all, it's really a pretty poor example of the point that the piece of homework is supposedly trying to illustrate. :(
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    Perhaps the mess that needed to be cleaned up had been created by a newborn baby. In that case it's a rather neat bit of wordplay.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Perhaps the mess that needed to be cleaned up had been created by a newborn baby. In that case it's a rather neat bit of wordplay.
    Still awkward: I would read "You've got a bundle of joy on your hands trying to clean that mess up" as "You've got a new baby on your hands (who is) trying to clean that mess up."
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    the phrasal verb in the original question scenario isn't "mess up": it's surely "clean up". In the example sentence "[that] mess" is actually the direct object, not part of a phrasal verb.
    Good point - I was looking only at the phrase in question and so failed to notice that rather important point! :oops:
     
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