catch a tiger by the tail —(also: have a tiger by the tail) engage in an undertaking which may prove extremely dangerous or difficult:
- You’re taking on an organization with reserves you know nothing about. How do you know you won’t be catching a tiger by the tail?
Note: The expression does not correlate in meaning with the phrase catch an eel by the tail—(also: hold an eel by the tail) attempt to control an elusive person or situation:
- He is not easily managed, but if he suspects you are trying to take him in, you may as well catch an eel by the tail.
take the bull by the horns—deal with a difficult situation in a bold and direct manner rather than evade it:
- He had not, as the phrase goes, taken the bull by the horns, or advanced in front of the enemy’s fire.