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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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
thrust something into someone or somethingand 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 someoneand *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 somethingand *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.
make a stab at somethingalso have a stab at something
to try something new or different We are making a stab at high-speed rail service.
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.
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.
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.
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.
stab (someone) in the back
To harm (someone) by treachery or betrayal of trust.