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canary in the coal mine


canary in the coal mine rate
(Expression) someone or something used to indicate when a situation might be turning dangerous; derived from when coal miners would take a canary down into the mines with them, canaries were very sensitive to any odorless noxious gases that might be released by mining, if the canary died the miners would know some gases had been released and they would evacuate the mine immediately
Usage: "So, if I get sick in there, you'll know it's not safe for the rest of you? I'm just a canary in a coal mine to you."

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