start the United States down a slippery slope

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Senior Member
Hey everyone!
I read the following sentence on this website under the article Syria Matters Less Than Everyone Thinks.

The sentence: " Opponents warn that bombing Bashar al-Assad's forces will start the United States down a slippery slope to a major ground-force commitment. "

Firstly I have some difficulty understanding this sentence and my question is, Is there a pattern like "start something down" ?

Any replies would be appreciated.
  • Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    I'm not sure about your question regarding a pattern, but the part of the sentence that seems to be confusing you could be reworded as "...will make the U.S. start sliding down a slippery slope..." It means once one has started moving in a particular direction, one will gain momentum and have a difficult time stopping.


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    It means to start something moving down a slippery slope. The word "moving" is often omitted in phrases like this.

    The phrase "slippery slope," often in the longer phrase "down a slippery slope," refers to something like an icy path on a hill. Once you start sliding down it, you cannot stop; you just slide faster and faster until you crash. It is often used as a metaphor for starting something that you will not be able to stop and that will have bad results at the end.


    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    To "start X on something" can mean to set X on a path towards (in this case, start the downward path of the metaphorical slippery slope) something or to make it so that X begins to do that something (such as a process or a task).
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