make a federal case of

Idioms & Phrases

make a federal case of

Also, make a big deal of. Give undue importance to an issue, as in I'll pay you back next weekyou needn't make a federal case of it, or Jack is making a big deal of filling out his passport application. The first hyperbolic expression, almost always used in a negative context, alludes to taking a legal action before a high (federal) court. The second alludes to an important business transaction (see big deal, def. 1).

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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