looking for a needle

  • Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The mission is as difficult as looking for a needle in a haystack.

    Does this sentence sound good? I mean, is it a good comparison?
    We usually use the idiom to represend a problem of finding something. Your office is untidy and you can't find a particular document: it's like looking for a needle in a haystack. I'd be wary of using it just to represent a difficult task in general, because it's an image designed to evoke difficulty in finding something.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi quiet dandelion

    I agree with Thomas T. In addition, we would usually use this idiom in a simile rather than a comparison:

    The mission is like looking for a needle in a haystack.:tick:
    The mission is as difficult as looking for a needle in a haystack.:confused:

    All the best

    Loob
     

    AWordLover

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Hi,

    I certainly agree that the simile ,"X is like looking for a needle in a haystack." , is what is seen most often (even in AE). This would be the best way to use the idiom.

    I maintain that if it were used in a comparison, the meaning would be as I explained earlier.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I would avoid using the phrase, "looking for a needle in a haystack."

    It is too common for anything called "creative writing". It is so common that it no longer conveys the meaning with any impact. A cliche.

    So think of something new (or at least less used).

    "As difficult as teaching a horse to run on its hind legs."

    "As difficult as a blind man juggling sharp knives."

    "As difficult as eating Jello with your fingers."





    Etc.
     
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