hold(ing) the bag, to/be left(redirected from be left to hold the bag)
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be left holding the bag
To have responsibility or guilt for something foisted upon oneself; to take the blame for something. Primarily heard in US. My partner had been cooking the books for years, but I was left holding the bag when the business collapsed.
hold the bag
To have responsibility or guilt for something foisted upon oneself; to take the blame for something. My partner had been cooking the books for years, but I was left holding the bag when the business collapsed.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
be left holding the bagAMERICAN, INFORMAL
If you are left holding the bag, you are made responsible for a problem that nobody else wants to deal with. If a project goes bust, investors are left holding the bag. And then he made another deal, and they were left holding the bag. Note: The usual British expression is be left holding the baby.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
hold the bagInformal
1. To be left with empty hands.
2. To be forced to assume total responsibility when it ought to have been shared.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
hold(ing) the bag, to/be left
Abandoned by others, left in the lurch to carry the responsibility or blame. The implication in this expression, used since the eighteenth century, is that one is left holding an empty bag while others have made off with the presumably valuable contents. The phrase has often been used in international relations—for example, by Thomas Jefferson (“She will leave Spain the bag to hold,” Writings, 1793), and on the eve of America’s entrance into World War II, by Clare Boothe (Luce) in Europe in the Spring (1940): “When bigger and better bags are made, America will hold them.”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer