leave to someone's tender mercies


Submit to another's power or discretion, especially to an unsympathetic individual. Today this expression is always used ironically, as in We left him to the tender mercies of that stiff-necked, arrogant nurse. It alludes to a biblical passage (Proverbs 12:10): “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast; but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.