a hostage to fortune

hostage to fortune

An act or situation that could create future problems. A company that publicly supports an unpopular political stance often creates a hostage to fortune.
See also: fortune, hostage

a hostage to fortune

mainly BRITISH
If someone or something is a hostage to fortune, they have created a situation where bad things may happen to them in the future. Charles had already made himself a hostage to fortune by declaring that 30 was a suitable age to settle down. The proposals were regarded by some as a dangerous hostage to fortune. Note: You can also say that someone gives a hostage to fortune or creates a hostage to fortune if they do something that may cause trouble in the future. Despite persistent questioning, he gave no hostages to fortune in the form of a timetable. Note: Other verbs may be used instead of give or create. By opting for the best, the council recognises that it may have handed a hostage to fortune. Many departments may find it difficult to achieve the new standards that have been set for them. Note: This expression comes from an essay by Francis Bacon, `Of Marriage and Single Life' (1625): `He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune.'
See also: fortune, hostage