Idiom: A bull in a china shop: behaving like a clumsy or careless person and causing damage in situations that require careful thinking or actions.
Context #1 – Two salespeople are discussing a wealthy client
Mitzi: Hey, Valerie! How did it go yesterday at Mrs. Christensen’s penthouse? I heard it’s really gorgeous and full of expensive furniture and art.
Valerie: It was an absolute disaster. I’ll be lucky if I still have a job when the boss finds out about my visit.
Mitzi: Why? What happened?
Valerie: Well, my babysitter was sick yesterday, so I had no choice but to take along Jason, my three-year-old son.
Mitzi: Oh, no!
Valerie: Oh, yes. As you know, he is a very active little boy. He was like a bull in a china shop. He caused so much damage by knocking stuff over and breaking her expensive things.
Mitzi: I’m so sorry, Valerie. Maybe the boss will understand. I’ve heard she has children, too.
Valerie: Well, I hope so. I’ve offered to pay for all the damage Jason caused.
Context #2: Two friends talking after class
Cassie:I can’t believe how Sherry acted during our class meeting!
Tabitha: I know! Didn’t anyone tell her that the situation was delicate and that we had to be careful with our complaints to the teacher?
Cassie: I told her that we needed to be careful. Mr. Johnson is a good teacher, but he just needs to talk slowly and write more on the board. We didn’t want to hurt his feelings.
Tabitha: Well, she obviously didn’t listen. Sherry was like a bull in a china shop and just went on and on complaining about every little thing Mr. Johnson does. I thought he was about to cry!
Cassie: She was careless with her words, and I think she messed everything up even more.
Tabitha: I’m going to go talk to Mr. Johnson now and tell him that Sherry doesn’t represent us.
Cassie: Good idea. I’ll go with you.
Explanation: “A bull in a china shop” is used for a person who breaks things or who often makes mistakes or causes damage in situations that require careful thinking or behavior. In the first context, Valerie’s 3-year old son caused a lot of damage in the penthouse apartment full of expensive things. In context 2, Sherry complained very carelessly about the teacher when everyone had agreed to be careful and respectful in their criticism. Therefore, Sherry behaved carelessly, or like a bull in a china shop.