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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 ?
Of 148 homicides from stabbing recorded by the Royal London Hospital, 67 had a single, fatal stab wound.
12) Consequently, a blade with a length of less than 3 inches can produce a fatal stab injury, while an adequately sharp instrument of any length can inflict a fatal slash to a sensitive area, such as the neck.
The stab wounds occurred in the killing zone,'' Mavis said.
CANYON COUNTRY - A man was arrested and another suffered minor stab wounds Thursday afternoon in an apparent road rage situation near Soledad Canyon Road and Whites Canyon Road, sheriff's officials said.
The girlfriend told police that she and Castillo did not know the man and that there did not appear to be any anger between them until the killer used a sharp instrument to stab her boyfriend, who was on the passenger side of the suspect's vehicle in the 12000 block of Victory.
Castillo was pronounced dead from a single stab wound to his upper chest at 2:45 a.
Despite suffering from multiple stabs wounds in his back, the unidentified boy was able to run from his attacker and was found at 11:58 p.