leave holding the bag


Abandon someone, force someone to bear the responsibility or blame. For example, Her friends said they were too busy to help with cleaning up, and left Lucy holding the bag. This expression is often put as be left holding the bag, as in When they quit the clean-up committee, Lucy was left holding the bag. This idiom grew out of the earlier give one the bag (to hold), which dates from about 1600 and alludes to being left with an empty bag while others have taken the valuable contents. Also see leave in the lurch.

QUIZZES

DISCOVER THE INFLUENCE OF PORTUGUESE ON ENGLISH VIA THIS QUIZ!

We’ve gathered some interesting words donated to English from Portuguese … as well as some that just don’t translate at all. Do you know what they mean?
Question 1 of 11
Which of the following animal names traces its immediate origin to Portuguese?
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.