cut the ground from under (someone)

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cut the ground from under (someone)

To suddenly cause problems for someone. I plan to cut the ground from under the prosecutor with this line of questioning.
See also: cut, ground
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

cut the ground from under

Unexpectedly withdraw support or destroy one's foundation, trip someone up. For example, Overriding his veto, Congress cut the ground from under the President. This metaphoric phrase alludes to removing the solid earth from under someone. [Mid-1800s]
See also: cut, ground
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.

cut the ground from under someone

or

cut the ground from under someone's feet

If you cut the ground from under someone or cut the ground from under their feet, you make their ideas or opinions seem less impressive, often by doing something unexpected. The sudden announcement was seen by many as an attempt to cut the ground from under the president's feet.
See also: cut, ground, someone
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

cut the ground from under, to

To foil or thwart someone, to trip someone up. The idea of leaving someone no ground to stand upon in an argument was expressed in the late sixteenth century by several writers; occasionally “grass” was substituted for “ground.” James Howell’s French proverb collection of 1659 included Couper l’herbe sous les pieds, “To cut the grass under one’s feet.” Anthony Trollope used the expression in several of his books, including The Warden (1869): “The ground was cut from under her.”
See also: cut, ground, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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