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trial by fire

A test of one's abilities to perform well under pressure, as in Finishing this buge list of chores in time for the wedding is really a trial by fire. This expression alludes to the medieval practice of determining a person's guilt by having them undergo an ordeal, such as walking barefoot through a fire.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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