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throw (one) off the scent
To misdirect one away from their pursuit; to steer one's investigation or suspicions in the wrong direction. The mafia accountant managed to throw the authorities off the scent of the mob's money laundering for years, but they finally caught up with him after an anonymous source tipped them off. That outlier data threw me off the scent for a while, but I think my research is back on track now.
To recognize or sense a weakness or vulnerability (especially a new one) in an opponent, adversary, or subject over which one is trying to gain an advantage. The phrase implies that such a weakness will then be acted upon to gain victory or advantage. The visiting squad is starting to look tired, and the home team scents blood. Look for them to try to close out the game. Do not give any indication that we are willing to settle. If we do, the attorneys will scent blood and we won't get what we want.
1. To hurl or cast someone or something off. A noun or pronoun can be used between "throw" and "off." He threw off his hat and jacket in anger. The horse threw its rider off as it bucked wildly.
2. To rid oneself of someone or something; to cast someone or something out. A noun or pronoun can be used between "throw" and "off." I've had a bad cough for a few weeks that I can't seem to throw off. You need to throw your regrets off and focus on the task at hand. I've been trying to throw off people who only add negativity to my life.
3. To emit; to radiate or give off. A noun or pronoun can be used between "throw" and "off." Though the fruit throws off a horrid smell, it is actually quite delicious. The lantern threw off a weak light in the darkness.
4. To misdirect someone away from the subject of their pursuit; to steer someone's investigation or suspicions in the wrong direction. A noun or pronoun can be used between "throw" and "off." At first I suspected a surprise party, but I was thrown off when Mike said he was going out of town for the weekend. The mafia accountant had been throwing the authorities off for years to cover the mob's money laundering.
5. To confuse or befuddle someone; to hamper or impair someone's performance, confidence, or concentration. A noun or pronoun can be used between "throw" and "off." Her snide remarks in the middle of my presentation really threw me off. You can tell the home team was thrown off by the new defensive approach.
6. To say or utter something casually, carelessly, or in an offhand manner. A noun or pronoun can be used between "throw" and "off." She threw off a remark that her son would be taking over the department. In its financial earnings report, the company's CEO threw the news off that they would be selling their mobile phone division.
be on the scent (of someone or something)
To be pursuing a potential lead in an attempt to find someone or something. With this new evidence, the detective thinks he's finally on the scent of the kidnappers.
on the scent (of something)
1. Literally, of an animal, in pursuit of its prey or quarry by following their scent. They put the bloodhounds on the scent of the escaped prisoners.
2. In keen pursuit of some object or goal. With the explosion of the internet and mobile devices, many young graduates are on the scent of lucrative careers in programming and web design. Don't worry, when Janet's on the scent, she always secures a sale.
on the wrong scent
Following a false lead; chasing after the wrong person or thing. With this new clue, it's becoming clear that we've been on the wrong scent for months. The politician is a master of diverting criticism and negative attention away from himself by putting voters on the wrong scent.
put (one) off the scent
1. To cause an animal, especially a dog, to lose the scent of someone or some other animal, as by distracting it with other odors. I've heard that you can put dogs off the scent by crossing back and forth through a river. The hunter covered himself in elk urine to put his prey off the scent.
2. By extension, to misdirect one away from their pursuit; to steer one's investigation or suspicions in the wrong direction. The mafia accountant managed to put the authorities off the scent of the mob's money laundering for years, but they finally caught up with him after an anonymous source tipped them off. That outlier data put me off the scent for a while, but I think my research is back on track now.
put a dog off the scent
to distract a dog from trailing the scent of someone or an animal. The odor of a skunk put the dogs off the scent.
put someone off the scent
Fig. to distract someone or a group from following a scent or trail. (From put a dog off the scent; the scent or trail can be purely figurative. (See also put someone off the track.) The clever maneuvers of the bandits put the sheriffs posse off the scent. The mob laundered the drug money to try to put investigators off the trail.
throw someone off
to interrupt and confuse someone; to mislead someone. The interruption threw me off, and I lost my place in the speech. Little noises throw me off. Please try to be quiet. Your comment threw me off.
throw (someone or an animal) off (of) somethingand throw someone or an animal off
to divert or confuse someone or an animal away from something, such as the scent, track, or trail. (Of is usually retained before pronouns.) She put a little detail in her story to throw the cops off of her trail. The diversion threw off the investigation.
throw someone or something off (of) somethingand throw someone or something off
to cast someone or something off something. (Of is usually retained before pronouns.) The character in the movie wanted to throw the heroine off a cliff. He went to the middle of the bridge and threw off the gun used in the shooting.
throw something off
1. Lit. to cast something, such as a coat, off one's body. He threw his jacket off and dived into the icy water. He threw off his jacket.
2. Fig. to resist or recover from a disease. It was a bad cold, but I managed to throw it off in a few days. I can't seem to throw off my cold. I've had it for weeks.
3. Fig. to emit or give off an odor. The small animal threw a strong odor off. The flowers threw off a heavy perfume.
1. Cast out, rid oneself of, as in He threw off all unpleasant memories and went to the reunion. [Early 1600s]
2. Give off, emit, as in The garbage was throwing off an awful smell. [First half of 1700s] Also see throw out, def. 1.
3. Also, throw or put off the scent . Distract, divert, or mislead, as in A mistaken estimate threw off her calculations, or These clues were designed to throw the detective off the scent. The variant comes from hunting, where the quarry may try to put pursuing hounds off the scent. Its figurative use dates from the mid-1800s. Also see off the track.
4. Perform in a quick, spontaneous, or casual manner, as in He threw off one sketch after another. [Mid-1700s]
wrong scent, on the
On a false trail or track, as in He managed to put the police on the wrong scent and got away. This term alludes to hunting with hounds. [c. 1600]
In a competitive situation, if you scent blood, you sense a weakness in your opponent and take advantage of it. Right-wing parties, scenting blood, have been holding talks aimed at building an alternative coalition. Note: You can also say that someone gets a scent of blood. The market has got the scent of blood and, having sniffed it, they are going for it.
throw someone off the scentor
put someone off the scent
If something or someone throws you off the scent or puts you off the scent when you are looking for someone or something, they confuse or deceive you by making you believe something that is not true. We decided that if anyone was following us, it would be wiser if we split up to throw them off the scent. The team was also put off the scent by the alibi Maxine Jones gave Morgan. Officers now accept they should have checked her story more thoroughly. Note: This is a reference to hounds that get distracted from the trail of an animal they are hunting, for example because of another smell.
on the scent1 (of an animal) following the scent of its quarry. 2 in possession of a useful clue in a search or investigation.
put (or throw) someone off the scentmislead someone in the course of a search or investigation.
be on the ˈscent (of somebody/something)have information that will lead you to somebody/something: The police are on the scent of the criminals.
put/throw somebody off the ˈscentgive somebody false information to prevent them from finding out or knowing something: I threw the police off the scent by pretending I was in Mexico City on the day of the crime.
Animals such as dogs follow the scent (= smell) of other animals, especially when hunting.
1. To hurl or fling someone or something off with great force or speed: The horse threw the cowboy off. The running back threw off the tackle.
2. To remove some clothing hastily or carelessly: I entered my apartment and threw my coat off. We threw off our jackets in the hallway.
3. To cast something out; rid oneself of something: I threw off all the unpleasant memories of my childhood. We threw our grudges off in order to move on.
4. To give something off; emit something: The exhaust pipes threw off fumes. The chimney throws soot off.
5. To distract, divert, or mislead someone or something: The scent threw off the dogs. A wrong measurement threw her estimate off.
6. To do, finish, or accomplish something in a casual or offhand way; toss something off: I threw off a quick response to the letter I'd received.
7. To stop the operation, activity, or flow of something controlled by a flip switch: After the meeting, I told them to throw off the lights. You can throw the current off the back porch with this switch.