I'm writing the following sentence, and I'd like an idiomatic equivalent for "feel the heat" (to encounter an uncomfortable situation.) that would be acceptable for formal written English:

Warily eyeing the enemy army's advance, the old king began _______

  • 1
    It depends on exactly what you're trying to say. For example, was the king actually scared, or was he feeling energised and confident as the tension rose in those around him? Jun 25, 2017 at 12:06
  • I would say he was getting scared. I imagine beads of sweat forming on his forehead...
    – Ilanysong
    Jun 25, 2017 at 12:18
  • 1
    '...the old king really began to feel the pressure.' Strange how a slightly different metaphor can alter the register. Jun 25, 2017 at 12:30
  • I'd probably ditch continuous in favour of an infinitive form - began to feel nervous, or more metaphorically, perhaps, began to sweat. But it's just writing advice. Jun 25, 2017 at 13:19
  • Could you use your own "the old king started to feel beads of sweat forming on his forehead"? Then you would not need 'Warily' at all. Jun 25, 2017 at 13:59

2 Answers 2


Warily eyeing the enemy army's advance, the old king became apprehensive (of any undesirable outcome).



  1. anxious or fearful that something bad or unpleasant will happen.

"The king was apprehensive that the enemy will capture the city and dethrone him"


"It was squeaky bum time for the king"

From Wiktionary

(noun, uncountable) (informal, chiefly Britain)
An exciting part of a sporting event, particularly the final moments of a close game or season.

Attributed to Sir Alex Ferguson, famed Scottish association football manager and former player referencing the sound made by moving around in a plastic seat while squirming under pressure.

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