a hostage to fortune
hostage to fortune
An act or situation that could create future problems. A company that publicly supports an unpopular political stance often creates a hostage to fortune.
a hostage to fortunemainly BRITISH
If someone or something is a hostage to fortune, they have created a situation where bad things may happen to them in the future. Charles had already made himself a hostage to fortune by declaring that 30 was a suitable age to settle down. The proposals were regarded by some as a dangerous hostage to fortune. Note: You can also say that someone gives a hostage to fortune or creates a hostage to fortune if they do something that may cause trouble in the future. Despite persistent questioning, he gave no hostages to fortune in the form of a timetable. Note: Other verbs may be used instead of give or create. By opting for the best, the council recognises that it may have handed a hostage to fortune. Many departments may find it difficult to achieve the new standards that have been set for them. Note: This expression comes from an essay by Francis Bacon, `Of Marriage and Single Life' (1625): `He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune.'
a hostage to fortunean act, commitment, or remark which is regarded as unwise because it invites trouble or could prove difficult to live up to.
The original hostages to fortune were a man's family, the allusion being to Francis Bacon's essay on marriage ( 1625 ): ‘He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune’.