Throw Someone Under the Bus

Meaning of Idiom ‘Throw Someone Under the Bus’

To throw someone under the bus is to make someone a scapegoat; to publicly betray an ally or colleague; to let someone take the blame for something that you were also involved in; to fail to defend someone or to sacrifice their interests, especially to protect your own. 1Bengelsdorf, Peter. Idioms in the News – 1,000 Phrases, Real Examples. N.p.: Amz Digital Services, 2012.


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Usage

This idiom is similar to throw someone to the wolves or throw someone to the lions, but it has a more subtle shade of meaning, and it is often used in a tongue in cheek and slightly humorous way in situations that are not all that serious.

When used seriously, it is usually in regards to politics or business. In politics, it often involves a politician distancing him or herself from a former ally that is deemed a liability. 2Bengelsdorf, Peter. Idioms in the News – 1,000 Phrases, Real Examples. N.p.: Amz Digital Services, 2012.

Examples Of Use

“My colleagues will be happy to throw me under the bus, but I refuse to take the blame for something that was a group decision.”

“She tried to throw her employees under the bus but it was clear where the buck stopped.”

“Thanks for throwing me under the bus!” said Lenny. “Now I’m in hot water with my mom.” “Hey, no use of us both being in trouble,” said Jack.

“Way to throw me under the bus,” said Mark, laughing. “Hey, sorry. Robert is already angry with me because of last week. I can’t afford to get on his bad side again.”

Origin

Although this idiom has been used since at least the 1930s, it has become more popular in recent times, perhaps as late as the 1990s. How it evolved is unknown. It seems to be a modern version of ‘throw someone to the wovles (or lions).’ However, the allusion in the previous idioms are more clear, as if you throw someone to hungry wolves, they may be distracted so that you have time to get away.

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Sources   [ + ]

1, 2. Bengelsdorf, Peter. Idioms in the News – 1,000 Phrases, Real Examples. N.p.: Amz Digital Services, 2012.