Definition of the writing is on the wall in US English:

the writing is on the wall

(North American the handwriting is on the wall)

phrase

  • There are clear signs that something unpleasant or unwelcome is going to happen.

    ‘the writing was on the wall for the old system’
    • ‘People are tired of him and it is clear to all of us that the writing is on the wall.’
    • ‘When our own ranks are turning against us, the writing is on the wall.’
    • ‘Since tobacco companies market their product to young people, the handwriting is on the wall in terms of the toll that we can expect if the course continues unchecked.’
    • ‘However, although the writing is on the wall for the old hospital buildings at Bishopstoke, residents have been given a glimmer of hope in the possibility of rebuilding new services on the site.’
    • ‘When the handwriting is on the wall, it's prudent to get your ‘true’ position on the record before anyone thinks you were responsible for the failure.’
    • ‘The reality is, right now, in Hartlepool, they're worried, they're nervous; and they can see the writing is on the wall.’
    • ‘Evidence from one Yorkshire local authority suggests that the writing is on the wall for affordable housing in villages.’
    • ‘I know nothing has been officially decided yet, but the writing is on the wall and we are looking at an utter disaster for the town.’
    • ‘But the writing is on the wall: this Macbeth is already done for.’
    • ‘Obviously, it would be a seismic shift at the New York Stock Exchange, but I think the handwriting is on the wall.’
    omen, ill omen, bad omen, portent, sign, indication, presage, warning, forewarning, foreshadowing, forecast, harbinger, augury, threat, menace, signal, hint, straw in the wind
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