snakes and ladders

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snakes and ladders (uncountable)

  1. A children's luck-based board game of Indian origin, played on a numbered grid, the aim of which is to proceed to the end, and in which ladders aid progress and snakes impede it.
  2. (figuratively) any situation in which people or events go forward and backward, seemingly at random
    • 1970, New Scientist, Volume 45, Issues 682-694, page 493,
      Teachers, senior teachers, and principal teachers would have built-in status and the scales would offer well-defined career prospects instead of the ambiguous and often misleading snakes-and-ladders situation which at present exists.
    • 1983, Opera, Volume 34, Issues 7-12, page 1295,
      His Mireille has had a snakes-and-ladders career, starting up, going down, then finally rising once more.
    • 2009, Kathryn Bonella, Hotel Kerobokan: The Shocking Inside Story of Bali's Most Notorious Jail,
      But his snakes and ladders career would soon take its biggest hit.


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