a knife in the back

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a knife in the back

A grievous or supreme act of treachery or betrayal. (Usually preceding "of/for (someone).") This revelation regarding the governor's longstanding misappropriation of public funds is sure to be a knife in the back of his constituency, as well as every taxpayer in the state.
See also: back, knife
References in classic literature ?
Bad as the wine was, a knife in the back was worse, and I must survive at any cost.