We got between a mother bear and a cub

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Nicodi2

Senior Member
Français
<< Topic sentence: We got between a mother bear and a cub. >>

Hi friends of the forum,

What would be the exact meaning of the above expression ? How often do you use it ?

Here is the context (the extract is from House of Cards, an American serie mainly about political corruption...)

(...)
-It's 25 years he has been pushing this particular agenda, and we got between a mother bear and a cub, it's just a setback, that's all
-On our first day in office !
-Look, I worked for 4 presidents, setbacks are a dime a dozen of this size
(...)

Thanks for your valuable help !

Nico
 
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  • wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    ..we got between a mother bear and a cub, it's just a setback ...
    The second part of this helps to explain the first.
    The meaning is: 'We were defeated on this matter (whatever it was) but it is not too important'.

    If when exploring in the mountains you come between a mother bear and her cub, you can expect that the mother bear will attack you. In a fight between a bear and a human, the bear usually wins. Thus in that situation, you can expect to be defeated.

    In other words, the speaker means that they had taken up a position which had forced a more powerful person or group to react aggressively. Because the other side was more powerful, the result was a defeat: but in this case not a big one, just a setback.
     

    Nicodi2

    Senior Member
    Français
    The second part of this helps to explain the first.
    The meaning is: 'We were defeated on this matter (whatever it was) but it is not too important'.

    If when exploring in the mountains you come between a mother bear and her cub, you can expect that the mother bear will attack you. In a fight between a bear and a human, the bear usually wins. Thus in that situation, you can expect to be defeated.

    In other words, the speaker means that they had taken up a position which had forced a more powerful person or group to react aggressively. Because the other side was more powerful, the result was a defeat: but in this case not a big one, just a setback.
    Cristal clear, wandle.
    Thanks for your help,

    Is that a fixed expression of just a metaphor here ? How often do you use it yourself ? Did you hear it before ?
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Is that a fixed expression of just a metaphor here ? How often do you use it yourself ? Did you hear it before ?
    It's a common, but not "fixed" literal expression. (at least in the U.S. where we are quite familiar with the genus Ursus.)

    Here it appears to be a one-off metaphor used by a clever writer and something that the meaning of which will be obvious.

    I live in an area with many black bears, but I have not used the metaphor, do not plan to and never have heard it from anyone else.

    For a fine illustration of the literal term, see this painting by famous U.S. artist Charles M. Russell:

    http://fineartamerica.com/featured/bad-medicine-bear-and-cubs-pg-reproductions.html
     
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