Definition of mare's nest in English:

mare's nest


  • 1A complex or confused situation; a muddle.

    ‘your desk's usually a mare's nest’
    • ‘It's something of a mare's nest that looks susceptible to legal enquiry to us.’
    • ‘Who else would take on the mare's nest that is Hynix?’
    • ‘On that last one, the DVLA is looking at tachographs as well, which rounds out the whole automotive picture into a potential mare's nest of a privacy nightmare.’
    muddle, mix-up, mess, predicament, awkward situation, difficult situation, unfortunate situation, mare's nest, quandary, entanglement, tangle, jumble, imbroglio
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  • 2An illusory discovery.

    ‘the mare's nest of perfect safety’
    • ‘Nor is it unlikely that after an initial flurry of interest the major media concluded that the whole thing was a mare's nest.’


Late 16th century: formerly in the phrase to have found a mare's nest, meaning ‘to have discovered something amazing’ (i.e. something that does not exist).