Incur blame or censure for another's misdeeds, as in She's taken the fall for you in terms of any political damage, or A senior official took the fall for the failed intelligence operation. This expression originated in the 1920s as underworld slang. It began to be extended to less criminal kinds of blame in the second half of the 1900s. Also see take a fall, def. 2.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.