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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

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

proverb Those who remain flexible and adaptable will be able to survive change, hardship, or adversity more easily than those who try to challenge or stand against it. The CEO doesn't tolerate people who won't go along with his ideas or change to meet his demands. A reed before the wind lives on, at least when you're working at this company. Luckily, I had diversified a lot of my revenue streams before the economic crash hit, so I was able to change tack and withstand the blow better than the large companies that had no room to maneuver. A reed before the wind lives on, while mighty oaks to fall.
See also: before, lives, mighty, oak, reed, while, wind

slender reed

Some source of support that proves to be extremely limited, weak, or unreliable. For all his boastful talk, he ended up being little more than a slender reed when the situation became challenging. The idea that voters' opinions will shift enough between now and election day is but a slender reed of hope that her campaign is clinging to at the moment. It was on this slender reed of evidence that the prosecution built their entire case.
See also: reed, slender
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

a broken reed

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
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

a broken reed

a weak or ineffectual person, especially one on whose support it is foolish to rely.
This expression refers to Isaiah 36:6, in which the Assyrian general taunts King Hezekiah of Jerusalem about the latter's supposed ally, the Egyptian pharaoh: ‘Lo, thou trusteth in the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt’.
See also: broken, reed
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

slender reed, a

A weak and unreliable support. This metaphor dates from biblical times, appearing in both Old and New Testaments. In the former, in the books of Isaiah and 2 Kings, it was applied to Egypt, which was variously described as a “broken” or “bruised” reed, not to be trusted if the Assyrians made war on the Hebrews. The term persisted into the mid-twentieth century but is heard less often today.
See also: slender
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
Even the criminal element of the city follows its striated logic, as evidenced by the turf wars between rival gangs that we witness in Reed's novel.
To make up for lost time, Donner and Reed made a tragic mistake: They listened to Lansford Hastings, a lawyer who was trying to lure emigrants to California.
Although they work independently, both researchers hope their findings will improve the lives of woodwind players in several ways: by finding methods to grow better-quality cane for making reeds, by helping musicians identify and preserve good reeds, and by spurring the development of improved substitute materials.
Other chapters in this first, general section concern tools for reed-making (it is interesting to see how little they have changed in hundreds of years) and general instructions for constructing a double reed. This last material is then elaborated in the chapters on specific instrument families: shawms, curtals (dulcians), krummhorns, and other cylindrical- and conical-bore instruments.
Most infamously, ( Reed was the origin of that longstanding rumor that Jack Palance misread the name for Best Supporting Actress during the Oscars, mistakenly giving the award to Marissa Tomei.
Alpha Aromatics is set to revolutionize reed diffusers with a ground-breaking method for diffusing fragrances into ambient air.
'Despite the assistance of a dedicated team of volunteers, a hard weekend of cutting by hand only supplies enough reeds to thatch one local roof,' he said.
"Even with a team of volunteers to help me, a hard weekend of cutting by hand only supplies enough reeds to thatch one local roof," he said.
Clare Reed, development director of Reeds Carpet Recycling said: "At the outset we will be taking the waste carpet that Reeds creates as the largest independent carpet contractor in the UK - that's about 850 tonnes."
Most reed switches in use today have a glass tube length of 10 mm to 20 mm and a diameter of approximately 2 mm.
Scott Reeds takes his inspiration from the distinguished lineage of James Ensor and Richard Serra in this new series, celebrating the razor-sharp technique to be mastered in fine printmaking, as well as pinpointing the integrity of steel as material.
The Bassoon Reed Manual begins with introductory material which includes a preface (p.
Reed relays contain a reed switch, a coil for creating a magnetic field, an optional diode for handling back EMF from the coil, and an encapsulating package with connection terminals.
We sought the recommendations of trustworthy sources around the country, and then chose this initial group of "rising stars"--Roy Nirschel, Roger Williams University (R.I.); John Fry, Franklin & Marshall College (Pa.); Shirley Reed, South Texas College; Laura Skandera Trombley, Pitzer College (Calif.); and G.
Thanks to right-wing political operative Ralph Reed, Dobson was rolled like a pair of Las Vegas dice--all on behalf of an Indian casino.