So when there is a series of problems that are getting encountered in doing work. What could we say or express it in a succinct way?
some things that come to my mind are: (not sure if they are correct thoughts)

We are having bad omen
There is some ghost shadow on us
series of hard luck

Not sure if American or British culture has some sayings which mention ghosts in situations like this. (kind of putting it in superstitious way) What could be a better way to express this type of situation to someone?

  • You want to blame it on a ghost, evil spirit, or some other supernatural force?
    – Stuart F
    Commented May 18, 2023 at 20:52
  • yes but not necessarily. But at least one example of how could I blame it like that
    – nicku
    Commented May 19, 2023 at 10:10

6 Answers 6


jinxed (adj.)

having or believed to bring bad luck:
I must be jinxed - whenever I wash a wine glass, it breaks.
Some people believe the family is jinxed.

--Cambridge Dictionary

If something is jinxed, it means it is doomed never to succeed. It's a superstitious belief that the thing is inherently bad or that some event has marked it as bad, so "fate" continually prevents its success.

For instance, if your team is winning by one goal close to the end of regulation time, and you say, "We're going to win!", a friend watching with you might say, "Don't say that! You're going to jinx it!".

For longer-term runs of bad luck, like a project continually hitting setbacks, you can say the project is jinxed.


If you want something "superstitious", I don't think we have any sayings that refer to ghosts like this, but you could say that someone or something seems cursed.

cursed: being under or deserving a curse

A very poetic way to say it is that someone or something is ill-starred, which literally means that it was born under bad astrological conditions, but figuratively means "unlucky" or "destined to go wrong".


Patterns of good or bad luck are often referred to as "streaks":

We usually sell at least a few kits a day, but we've been having a serious unlucky streak lately.

It feels like I'm on a streak of bad luck today! My car getting scratched, dropping my purse in a puddle, and now this?

You know your lucky streak won't last, right? Gambling is still a bad idea even if you've had a few wins.

The word itself doesn't indicate whether the luck is good or bad, but you don't always have to be explicit if it's clear from context:

I know my team hasn't won a game all season, but I know we can break the streak this time!


Two possibilities are "snakebit" and "star-crossed". The first arose as a dialectical variant of "snakebitten", but has become more broadly acceptable in the sense of "unlucky". The second is famous as part of the Shakespearean expression "star-crossed lovers", but you can use it for other things too. It all depends on whether you want a country feel or a literary feel.

A couple of real-world examples.

From a law firm's website:

Is Your Construction Project Snakebit? - How to Tell and How to Respond

From a history of musical theater:

Other problems beset this star-crossed production.


I've been encountering many difficult problems in a row while doing this task.

"in a row", as you might know, is used to refer to a situation where something specific happens over and over again.

  • 2
    "in a row" doesn't work with present perfect continuous. It sounds like encountering many problems in a row has happened several times.
    – gotube
    Commented May 18, 2023 at 12:14

There's an expression used by coders/computer engineers, known as 'yak shaving' - this came about by a somewhat tortuous route, explained in the link.
It has nothing really to do with bad luck, but by the time you reach the end of it you might be disposed to think it is.

Imagine you have to do Task A. This is your job, this is what you must do.
Part way through, you discover that in order to complete Task A, you must first do Task B.
However, in trying to complete Task B you discover you actually need to do Task C, so you can finish B, so you can finally finish A.
Halfway through Task C you discover that in order to complete Task C, you must first do Task D… … …
This is yak shaving ;)
Task D seems completely unrelated to Task A, yet without it, Task A will never be done.

So, when the boss asks you how Task A is coming along, you can say, "It will be with you just as soon as I've finished shaving this yak."

  • 2
    This is too esoteric to be presented as an answer. I'm tempted to call it jargon but I don't think it even rises to that level.
    – EllieK
    Commented May 18, 2023 at 19:49
  • 7
    I happen to like the phrase, but I don't think it really refers to a series of problems, and certainly not in a superstitious way.
    – stangdon
    Commented May 19, 2023 at 1:07
  • >What are blockers in project management? A project blocker is anything that completely prevents progress from occurring within a project. A blocker can be a person or a thing, and can be internal or external. They are show-stopping and require immediate attention to resolve. Luckily, blockers are also almost always predictable.
    – Mazura
    Commented May 19, 2023 at 21:49
  • 2
    'yak shaving' : "Any seemingly pointless activity which is actually necessary to solve a ..."
    – Mazura
    Commented May 19, 2023 at 21:50

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