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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.
the villain of the piece
someone or something that has caused a bad situation
Usage notes: This phrase was first used to describe an evil character in a play.According to reports of the disaster, the villain of the piece is the mining company who failed to carry out proper safety checks.
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]