What does “throw someone under the bus” mean?

Uncover the meaning and origin of the idiom, its use in everyday language, and how it relates to betrayal and blame avoidance. Explore synonyms and global interpretations.

Understanding the Idiom

Throwing someone under the bus is an English idiom that means to betray or sacrifice someone for personal gain or to avoid blame.

The phrase is commonly used in everyday language and has its roots in British politics.

The following are three brief definitions of the idiom:

  1. To betray or sacrifice someone for personal gain or to avoid blame.
  2. To blame someone else for one’s own mistakes.
  3. To make someone else take the fall for something one has done.

Here are three example sentences that use the idiom:

  1. “He threw his colleague under the bus to save his own job.”
  2. “The boss threw the team under the bus for the project’s failure.”
  3. “She threw her friend under the bus to impress her boss.”

Here are three synonyms of the idiom:

  1. To stab someone in the back.
  2. To sell someone out.
  3. To hang someone out to dry.

Literal Meaning and Origin

The idiom “throw someone under the bus” is a metaphorical expression that does not have a literal meaning.

The phrase originated in British politics, where the phrase “under a bus” was already in use as a metaphor for misfortune.

The idiom became popular in the United States in the mid-20th century and has since been widely used in everyday language.

Use in Everyday Language

The idiom “throw someone under the bus” is commonly used in everyday language to describe situations where someone is betrayed or sacrificed for personal gain or to avoid blame.

The phrase is often used in the workplace, politics, and personal relationships.

It is used to describe situations where someone is unfairly blamed or punished for something they did not do.

Are “Throwing Someone Under the Bus” and “Throwing a Spanner in the Works” Similar Idioms?

“Throwing someone under the bus” and “throwing a spanner in the works” are not similar idioms.

The meaning of throwing a spanner is to cause a problem or disruption, while throwing someone under the bus means to betray or sacrifice someone for personal gain.

Global Interpretations

The idiom “throw someone under the bus” is used in many countries around the world, although it may be expressed differently depending on the language and culture.

In some cultures, the metaphor may involve throwing someone into the fire or throwing someone to the wolves.

However, the meaning is generally the same: to betray or sacrifice someone for personal gain or to avoid blame.