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I am looking for a phrase or a flowery way to say that he made hard work of what should have been a cakewalk. To give more context - sometimes the commentator says that the team should have finished the game easily but they made it look tough. Any suggestions?

  • This happens so often you'd think there would be some good phrases, but nothing much is coming to me. – Hot Licks Jan 24 '15 at 19:20
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You could describe the person as having "snatched defeat from the jaws of victory", a reversal of "snatch victory from the jaws of defeat".

According to Wiktionary, the latter phrase came into being as follows:

The first recorded use of the phrase discovered to date is an article criticizing Representative James Seddon of Virginia for claiming that a regiment in the Mexican-American war had "snatched victory from the jaws of defeat."

There is also the well-known idiom, "to make a mountain out of molehill" — though this also has an additional meaning, 'to make a big fuss over a trifling matter'.

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  • Well snatched defeat from jaws of victory - doesn't suit enough. I'm looking to say that what should have been easy work has been made look like difficult. – R11G Jan 24 '15 at 6:33
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How about to "make a mountain out of a molehill (tfd)". The link to the free dictionary says "cliché: to make a major issue out of a minor one; to exaggerate the importance of something"

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I have heard the phrase "He made a meal out of that..." used to indicate something was made harder than it should otherwise be.

See Cambridge dictionary: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/make-a-meal-out-of-sth

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How about making your own phrase like "engineered a rube goldberg"

From wikipedia "A Rube Goldberg machine is a contraption, invention, device or apparatus that is deliberately over-engineered or overdone to perform a very simple task in a very complicated fashion, usually including a chain reaction. The expression is named after American cartoonist and inventor Rube Goldberg (1883–1970).

Over the years, the expression has expanded to mean any confusing or complicated system. For example, news headlines include "Is Rep. Bill Thomas the Rube Goldberg of Legislative Reform?"[1] and "Retirement 'insurance' as a Rube Goldberg machine".[2]

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You could say that they "decided to do it the hard way", or that they "made it tough on themselves", or that they "took the long way around".... These all have the sense that the team was in control of what happened and they chose not to do it in the most quick, easy, or efficient manner.

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He would carve a knife with a spoon. Reference to somebody who would make things more hard work than they need to be.

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  • Knives aren't usually carved… is this supposed to be an inversion of carving a (wooden) spoon with a carving knife? Otherwise I can’t see what exactly it's supposed to mean. If you have a source to back up that this an expression in use, you should add a link to it in your answer: answers that don't cite sources or at least argue their claims are generally considered mere opinion and therefore lower-quality answers on StackExchange sites. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Feb 18 '15 at 0:32

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