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a stab in the back

A betrayal; an act of treachery. It felt like a stab in the back to hear that Paul was going out with my ex-girlfriend. The campaign coordinator's mid-race shift of allegiance will be quite a stab in the back for the incumbent president.
See also: back, stab

a stab in the dark

1. A guess or estimate with very little or no assurance as to its accuracy; a wild guess. Well, this is just a stab in the dark, but I'm going to say that the answer to the question is Countess Constance Markievicz.
2. An attempt (at something) which is not expected to succeed or has very little chance of working. It was really just a stab in the dark when I tried to fix our washing machine, but I was actually able to get it working again on my first try!
See also: dark, stab

take a stab in the dark

To make a guess or estimate with very little or no assurance as to its accuracy. I had absolutely no idea what the answer was for the last question on the exam, so I just took a stab in the dark and hoped for the best.
See also: dark, stab, take

take a stab at (doing) something

To attempt (to do) something; to take a turn trying (to do) something. Well, I haven't fixed a motor in nearly 10 years, but I'll certainly take a stab at it. You had your chance, now let your sister take a stab at trying to break the piñata.
See also: stab, take

stab at someone or something

to thrust at someone or something with something sharp, such as a knife. The horrid man stabbed at me and missed. The stork stabbed at the frog with its beak.
See also: stab

stab someone in something

to stab someone in a particular place. Max stabbed a prison guard in the belly and left him to die. Tom stabbed himself in the thigh by accident.
See also: stab

stab someone in the back

1. Lit. to thrust a knife into someone's back. Max planned to stab his hostage in the back if he screamed. The murderer stabbed his victim in the back and fled.
2. Fig. to betray someone. I wish you would not gossip about me. There is no need to stab me in the back.
See also: back, stab

stab something at someone or something

to thrust something at someone or something. The hunter stabbed a stick at the bear to see if there was any life at all left in it. The stork tried to stab its beak at me as I held it, but I held tight while the vet examined it.
See also: stab

thrust something into someone or something

 and thrust something in
to stab or run something into someone or something. The knight thrust his lance into the villain. He thrust in his knife.
See also: thrust

*try at someone

 and *shot at someone; *crack at someone; *go at someone *stab at someone
an attempt to convince someone of something; an attempt to try to get information out of someone; an attempt to try to train someone to do something. (The expressions with shot and crack are more informal than the main entry phrase. (*Typically: take ~; have ~; give someone ~.) Let me have a crack at him. I can make him talk. Let the new teacher have a try at Billy. She can do marvels with unwilling learners. Give me a crack at him. I know how to make these bums talk.
See also: try

*try at something

 and *shot at something; *crack at something; *go at something; *stab at something; *whack at something
to take a turn at trying to do something. (*Typically: take ~; have ~; give someone ~.) All of us wanted to have a try at the prize-winning shot. Let Sally have a shot at it. If you let me have a crack at it, maybe I can be successful.
See also: try

stab somebody in the back

to do something secretly to harm someone A lot of women in this business think they have to stab each other in the back to get ahead. By supporting civil rights, some senators believed Truman had stabbed the southerners in the back.
See also: back, stab

make a stab at something

also have a stab at something
to try something new or different We are making a stab at high-speed rail service.
See also: make, stab

have/make a stab at something/doing something

to try to do something, or to try an activity that you have not done before I'd never tried water skiing before, but I had a stab at it while I was in Greece. She made a reasonable stab at solving the problem.
See also: have, stab

stab somebody in the back

to do something harmful to someone who trusted you He had been lied to, stabbed in the back, by people he thought were his friends.
See also: back, stab

make a stab at

Try to do something, as in I don't know the answer but I'll make a stab at it. This expression derives from stab in the sense of "a vigorous thrust." [Late 1800s] Also see make a pass at, def. 2.
See also: make, stab

stab in the back, a

A betrayal of trust, an act of treachery, as in Voting against our bill at the last minute was a real stab in the back. It is also put as stab someone in the back, meaning "betray someone." For example, Don't trust George; he's been known to stab his friends in the back. Both the noun and verb forms of this idiom, alluding to a physical attack when one's back is turned, date from the early 1900s.
See also: stab

stab (someone) in the back

To harm (someone) by treachery or betrayal of trust.
See also: back, stab
References in periodicals archive ?
Police, who say the stabber is believed to be about 24 years old, still want to confirm his identity.
Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Darrell Mavis said Tomasian is suspected of starting a fight and being the stabber.
Two weeks after the Rat Stabbers smashed Independiente del Valle 4-0 to book their berth in Group Seven of the main draw, they welcome Barcelona, secondstage winners of the 2014 Ecuadorean Primera Division.
Party spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary said: " There shouldn't be any doubt in the minds of the people that the SP has no space for those who don't have any ideology and who are cheaters and back- stabbers.
On top of the 100-odd pieces of the said Changle bones, people also have excavated some bone knives, bone stabbers, pieces of black earthenware and pieces of an ancient cooking vessel, all of which are typical of Longshan Culture.
A lust for power can keep someone motivated to achieve when all the odds stand against him (or her) and when the back stabbers are out in force.
Those comments were priceless: He call-ed the cast 'brown-nosers' and back stabbers, and went on to pick out certain individuals.
The Bell years were followed by a stint with Gamble & Huff's early Neptune label (distributed through Chess), and then a gold- and platinum-certified streak at Gamble & Huff produced hits on Philadelphia International ("Back Stabbers," "Love Train," "For the Love of Money" and "Give the People What They Want," among others.
After Dravell Black was arrested, one of the victims and a witness identified him from a lineup of six photographs as being one of the two stabbers, Gunner said.
The teams were level at 1-1 going into injury time of the first leg in La Plata when arbiter Osses pointed to the penalty spot and Guido Carrillo kept his cool to give the Rat Stabbers the slenderest of edges going into the return game.
According to local daily Al Seyassah, the police were able to trace the stabbers after one of them went to a hospital to treat a wound to his hand.
It was not the people of this country who rid us of that woman but the back stabbers in her party, some of whom are in this Cabinet.
The O'Jays have been performing for more than 50 years and have an international recording history with such hits as "Back Stabbers," "For The Love Of Money," "Darlin' Darlin' Baby," "Love Train," "I Love Music," and "Use Ta Be My Girl.
Then we have the back stabbers, ie those who desert their party - Clark, Purnell, Hazel Blears and Frank Field, for example, a long time admirer of Mrs Thatcher.