This is a part of a discussion between two people on the topic of the acceptance of gays in society:

Person A:

No problem with people doing whatever the f--k they want...but the whole marriage thing is a little iffy, but I dont care enough to want to stop them.

Person B:

How is it iffy?!?

Person A:

It's iffy because it opens the pool of false marriages for financial or other gain, such as citizenship, ect. like I said, i dont care enough to want to stop it, but from a governance point of view, it may cause expanded abuse. my argument has nothing to do with morality or whatever other "emotional" sentiments.

What's the meaning of pool mentioned in person A's remark? I've looked it up, but was unable to find a definition that's relevant to the context.

  • Is Person A a native speaker? Where did you read this? Is the lack of capitalization and misspelling of "etc." faithful to the original?
    – Martha
    Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 23:30
  • 2
    It's not at all a "standard" usage. But I see no reason to suppose the author isn't a native speaker (the opposite, in fact). It's reasonably comprehensible. I couldn't swear it would convey exactly what the author meant (he probably wasn't being that precise anyway), but I suspect an appropriate replacement there might well be can of worms (things he didn't want to bring into the debate, because they would just complicate the issue). It's just pool = pot = container [full of unwanted stuff]. Commented Feb 15, 2014 at 0:05
  • @Martha Yes it's the exact copy of the author's post, but I'm not quite sure whether or not he's a native speaker, it's from a forum thread discussion.
    – Theo
    Commented Feb 15, 2014 at 2:52

1 Answer 1


Person A seems either to be confused or to be using poetic language, as the meaning is not clear in itself but seems to reference a number of meanings and idioms:

Merriam Webster gives the following definition of "pool":

3*pool* noun:

4 a readily available supply: as


c : a group of people available for some purpose

The meaning of "pooled resources" in definition 6 is related:

6 a group of journalists from usually several news organizations using pooled resources (as television equipment) to produce shared coverage especially of events to which access is restricted

In 4, "pool" is used to describe the group, rather than the individuals (like water in a swimming pool). The idea of "pooled" in 6 is similar: resources have been collected together (again, think of water in a pool).

So it seems that Person A is wanting to refer to a collective group of people committing false marriage, but they may have mixed this up with the ideas of


opening (oneself) up to (something), meaning that you are making yourself available for something to happen to you


B a blowing something (wide) open (or blowing the lid off something), meaning to expose the truth of something (usually in reference to something scandalous): "I want to blow the lid open on false marriages" would mean they want to expose the people (or "pool" of people) who are having false marriages.

and/or b opening a can of worms, meaning to create a situation that will cause trouble or be unpleasant

I think ultimately they used "pool" to give a sense that the group of people doing this (or who would do this) is quite large, and/or that they are a collective - a group with the same ideas and principles rather than individuals, AND that marriages would be "opened up to" a situation in which they happen falsely (for financial gain, etc) and/or that gay marriage equality would be like "opening a can of worms", which would cause problems.

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