blood in the water
Referring to the emergence of predators such as sharks (and possible feeding frenzy) when blood is spilled in the water.
- (idiomatic) In a competitive situation, the exhibition of apparent weakness or vulnerability by one party, especially when this leads to a feeling of vulnerability or greater pressure to perform on the part of the weak party, and/or enhanced expectation of victory by the other(s).
1983, Michael J. Robinson and Margaret A. Sheehan, Over the Wire and on TV:
- The first reason Powell gave to explain Carter's press miseries was the idea of "blood in the water"—that more bad press goes to those who have just had bad press. Almost nobody in main-stream politics is as likely as a fourth-year incumbent to have just come off a stint of bad press.
- 1995: John Gallant, Network World (29 May),
- But Justice won the Intuit round, and now Microsoft-baiters want to block deployment of the Microsoft Network. As a recent article in the Wall Street Journal aptly noted, competitors sense blood in the water.
2004, Gardner Dozois, The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-First Annual Collection:
- [The] Democrats smell blood in the water. Twelve long years sitting on the sidelines. Twelve lean years. Twelve hungry years.