strain at a gnat

strain at a gnat

make a difficulty about accepting something trivial - literary

The phrase derives from Matthew 23 : 24 - Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. The word strain here appears to mean make a violent effort. But it may in fact refer to the straining of a liquid to remove unwanted particles: the image is of a person quietly accepting a difficulty or problem of significant proportions while baulking at something comparatively trivial.

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