the villain of the piece

the villain of the piece

The person or thing most responsible or at fault for a bad situation or outcome. The company's safety supervisor cut corners on expensive safety equipment, but the real villains of the piece are the executives of the company who demanded that he keep costs down by any means necessary. Though they thought he'd left the gas oven on, it turns out that a faulty gas line was the villain of the piece.
See also: of, piece, villain

villain of the piece

Fig. someone or something that is responsible for something bad or wrong. (Fig. on the villainous role in a drama.) I wonder who told the newspapers about the local scandal. I discovered that Jane was the villain of the piece. We couldn't think who had stolen the meat. The dog next door turned out to be the villain of the piece.
See also: of, piece, villain

villain of the piece, the

The person to blame for what is bad or wrong, as in I'm afraid the caterer is the villain of the piece-the food wasn't ready for hours. The piece in this term alludes to a play in which the villain is the character whose evildoing is important to the plot. [Mid-1800s]
See also: of, villain

the villain of the piece

BRITISH
COMMON If you describe someone as the villain of the piece, you mean that they are responsible for all the trouble or all the problems in a situation. The real villains of the piece are the motor manufacturers. In a country where the top speed limit is 70mph, why do they make 140mph cars? If he is indeed the villain of the piece, as the police claim he is, he should have been more carefully watched. Note: In this expression, the `piece' is a play.
See also: of, piece, villain

the villain of the piece

the main culprit.
1928 P. G. Wodehouse Money for Nothing I'm sure you're on the right track. This bird Twist is the villain of the piece.
See also: of, piece, villain

the ˈvillain of the piece

(especially humorous) a person or thing that is responsible for a particular problem, difficulty, etc: Nicolette’s the villain of the piece, since she’s the person who started all this trouble.
The villain is the principal evil character in a book, a play, etc.
See also: of, piece, villain
References in classic literature ?
I don't care if Hugo does come at me with a pistol," returned Amy, who was not gifted with dramatic power, but was chosen because she was small enough to be borne out shrieking by the villain of the piece.
Having tussled with Gabriel and Laurent Koscielny in the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge, Costa was again the villain of the piece from an Arsenal perspective as he proved the catalyst in Chelsea's 1-0 win - which leaves the Gunners in third behind both Leicester and Manchester City.
Year 12 student Finlay Turner-Berry took on the role of Fagin, Jessica Weale in Year 10 played Nancy and Ben Edwards from Year 13 played the villain of the piece, Bill Sykes.
Saoirse Ronan gives a superb performance as young Susie and Stanley Tucci is as brilliant as ever as the villain of the piece.
the villain of the piece is the bureaucratic nightmare of the London Constabulary, personified by a barely-human being with the implausible name of Orion Banks, who .
vvCape Tribulation proved the villain of the piece at Cheltenham yesterday as Denis O'Regan forced the nine-yearold past the gallant 2010 Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander in the Argento Chase.
WREXHAM 2 TAMWORTH 2 REFEREE Anthony Backhouse was roundly condemned as the villain of the piece at the Racecourse on Saturday where Wrexham were held to a 2-2 draw by Tamworth and missed an opportunity to go second in the table ahead of promotion rivals Newport County.
So to those on the sick, the unemployed, the single mothers whose children will be a lot poor this year, don't look to Westminster, the villain of the piece is a lot closer to home.
Pierce Brosnan is on fine form in this twisty-turny thriller, playing against type as the villain of the piece.
I fear we are in for another disappointment against Liverpool, and that man Bellamy, who last year was the hopeful saviour of the club, will now be the villain of the piece.
Sophisticated readers might cringe, and rightly so, at the characterization of an individual with "psychiatric problems" as the villain of the piece.
The villain of the piece, Abanazar, will be brought to life by former Coronation Street actor Chris Quinten while local dancer Rebecca Nicholson will step into the shoes of the Princess.
Ponting, one of Australia's most successful captains, has been made out to be the villain of the piece, with several former cricketers questioning his captaincy following the 0-2 Test series defeat to India.
But both would be happy to be cast as the villain of the piece by winning their respective semi-finals at Flushing Meadows today.