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sell down the river

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Betray, as in They kept the merger a secret until the last minute, so the employees who were laid off felt they'd been sold down the river. This expression, dating from the mid-1800s, alludes to slaves being sold down the Mississippi River to work as laborers on cotton plantations. Its figurative use dates from the late 1800s.

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“Evoke” and “invoke” both derive from the same Latin root “vocāre.”

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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.

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