reed

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a broken reed

An unreliable or unsupportive person. I thought I could count on my best friend for support during this difficult time, but she proved to be a broken reed and never returned my calls.
See also: broken, reed

broken reed

an unreliable or undependable person. (On the image of a useless, broken reed in a reed instrument.) You can't rely on Jim's support. He's a broken reed. Mr. Smith is a broken reed. His deputy has to make all the decisions.
See also: broken, reed

reed before the wind lives on, while mighty oaks do fall

Prov. An insignificant, flexible person is more likely not to get hurt in a crisis than a prominent or rigid person. Our office has new managers now; I plan to be as inconspicuous as possible while they reorganize everyone. A reed before the wind lives on, while mighty oaks do fall.
See also: before, fall, lives, mighty, oak, reed, wind

broken reed

A weak or unreliable support, as in I'd counted on her to help, but she turned out to be a broken reed. The idea behind this idiom, first recorded about 1593, was already present in a mid-15th-century translation of a Latin tract, "Trust not nor lean not upon a windy reed."
See also: broken, reed

a broken reed

BRITISH, LITERARY
If you call a person or group a broken reed, you mean that they are now weak and hopeless, and do not have the power or influence that they had in the past. They recognized that their allies were a broken reed.
See also: broken, reed
References in periodicals archive ?
Cast crest and face mounts as seen on the Sutton Hoo, Vendel and Valsgarde helmets are absent, although the hoard contains fragments of reeded strip and C-sectioned edging of types characteristic of these helmets.
Custom turning services including finials, table legs, island legs, split turnings, plain fluted and reeded columns.
The Tahiti door features bold lines of Asian art in a vertical reeded center panel and the Fiji door has a causal island aesthetic with its bamboo-styled applied molding.
Hereby the peripheral functionality to be produced from the current level with sediment added and reeded plants again.
uk On Friday, yet another strong player of the curved, reeded instrument leads the band, this time at the Symphony Hall foyer bar at 5pm.
The collection has distinctive pieces such as the romantic four-poster bed with reeded posts, a canopy from which to drape authentic mosquito netting, and a padded tweed headboard.
Garden designers are spoilt for choice with an unusually large variety of staddle stones, currently a market favourite, troughs, seats, reeded lamp posts and, at the top of the market, a marble statue of Young Winter attributed to Emil Wolf at pounds 5,000-pounds 7,000.
Perhaps this revival is most happily symbolised by the familiar design of the General Post Office's standard telephone kiosk with its Soanian dome and reeded door surround (the version known to cognoscenti as the K2).
Custom turning services, including finials, table legs, island legs, split turnings, plain fluted and reeded columns.
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Payne Street Imports unveils the Contemporary Continental accent table group made from mahogany and acacia with reeded aprons and brass-bordered tops.
Pendant lamps allow light to bounce off the mirror horizontally; custom-built cabinets of reeded glass and maple add to the open feel.
An inlet measuring about 100 metres by 10 metres under the Bay's M4 access road has been dredged to create a central channel up to two metres deep, which will be flanked by reeded shallows.
Stewart, part of the Something Fishy match group, was on peg 55 which meant he could pole fish at 11 metres to a reeded far shelf where he offered pellet over pellet for carp to 3lb.