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without a leg to stand on

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With no chance of success, as in He tried to get the town to change the street lights, but because there was no money in the budget he found himself without a leg to stand on. A related idiom is not have a leg to stand on, as in Once the detective exposed his false alibi, he didn't have a leg to stand on. This metaphoric idiom transfers lack of physical support to arguments or theories. [Late 1500s]

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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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