Fly in the Ointment

What Does "Fly in the Ointment" Mean?

homeidiomsFly in the Ointment
"Fly in the ointment" is an English idiom. It means "a small problem or flaw in an overall pleasant situation."

Examples in Sentences

Here are three examples of the idiom "fly in the ointment" used in a sentence:
  • The only fly in the ointment during our vacation was the bad weather on the last day.
  • Their product is excellent, but the poor customer service is a fly in the ointment.
  • Everything was going well, but the unexpected expense was the fly in the ointment.
meaning for fly in the ointment

What Is an Idiom?

An idiom is a commonly used expression whose meaning does not relate to the literal meaning of its words. In other words, if you were to translate "Fly in the Ointment" word for word, there is no guarantee the translation would help you to understand the meaning.

An idiom often includes a cultural or historical context that makes it difficult for non-native English speakers to understand. A phrase is classified as an idiom when a direct translation of the words does not reveal the meaning. Most idioms rely on shared knowledge or experiences known only to a specific community.

A Quick Test

You now know what "fly in the ointment" means, but are you good at English idioms? Let's see!
gold cup

gold cup

gold cup

  • This test has questions.
  • A correct answer is worth 5 points.
  • You can get up to 5 bonus points for a speedy answer.
  • Some questions demand more than one answer. You must get every part right.
  • Beware! Wrong answers score 0 points.
  • 🏆 If you beat one of the top 3 scores, you will be invited to apply for the Hall of Fame.
Scoring System

Guru (+)
Hero (+)
Captain (+)
Sergeant (+)
Recruit (+)
Help Us To Improve English Grammar Lessons
  • Do you disagree with something on this page?
  • Did you spot a typo?
Please tell us using this form.
Do you know your English idioms? idioms test

Take Our Test.

search icon

Search our idioms database. (We have 10,000+ idioms!)