Allow someone to continue on a course and then suffer its consequences. For example, The auditor knew something was wrong but decided to give the chief accountant enough rope. This expression, a shortening of enough rope to hang oneself, was already proverbial in John Ray's English Proverbs (1678).
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.