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  1. keannu's Avatar
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    #1

    put the genie back in the bottle.

    The girl is talking about her dead boy friend who was jealous of her success as a car racer, and I think "put the genie back in the bottle." means to stop something going on, but is it usually a bad thing or a good one or whatever?

    gw2-14

    girlfriend- And then he showed me what I could do. He showed me what was possible.
    I mean, I never thought I had any kind of talent, let alone this kind. one problem.
    Mel - What?
    girlfriend- Once he saw how good I was, he wanted to put the genie back in the bottle.
    Mel- Like how?
    girlfriend- He'd do anything to keep guys from racing me.

    ****the genie is out of the bottle ***something has become known Efforts to ban cloning cannot succeed - the genie is out of the bottle. Usage notes: often used in the form put the genie back in the bottle: Once people got used to e-mail, it was impossible to put this genie back in the bottle.

    Etymology: based on the story of a genie (magic being) who was released from a bottle and then helps the person who let it out
    Last edited by keannu; 02-Apr-2012 at 10:04.

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    #2

    Re: put the genie back in the bottle.

    Put the genie back in the bottle.

    It isn't necessarily a good or a bad thing. The point is that something has been released, made known, made real, put into motion etc and it's not possible to reverse the process. In the example you give, the release of her talent seems like a good thing from her point of view, but a bad thing from his.
    A similar phrase which means much the same is: "Now the toothpaste's out of the tube". Good or bad, there's no way it can go back in.

    not a teacher
    Last edited by JMurray; 02-Apr-2012 at 10:14.

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: put the genie back in the bottle.

    You may also come across the term 'disinvent' in a related sense: 'We can't disinvent the nuclear bomb. We just have to make a world where nobody uses it.'

    b

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    #4

    Re: put the genie back in the bottle.

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    You may also come across the term 'disinvent' in a related sense: 'We can't disinvent the nuclear bomb. We just have to make a world where nobody uses it.'
    I'm sure if this was said in AmE, it would be deinvent or perhaps uninvent, but I could be wrong. I've just never heard disinvent.

    There's also letting the cat out of the bag (or closer to the OP, the cat's out of the bag), and you can't unbake a cake.

    Note: AFAIK, disinvent, deinvent, and uninvent are not real words.

  3. BobK's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: put the genie back in the bottle.

    Yes, I've heard 'uninvent' too over here.

    b

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    #6

    Re: put the genie back in the bottle.

    ...and you can't unring a bell.

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    #7

    Re: put the genie back in the bottle.

    There is a corollary to Murphy's law which states that once you open a can of worms, the only way to recan them is to use a larger can.

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