lead someone up the garden path
lead (one) up the garden path
To mislead or deceive one. Don't lead me up the garden path—tell me what is really going on here.
lead someone up the garden pathBRITISH or
lead someone down the garden pathAMERICAN
If someone leads you up the garden path, they deceive you by making you believe something which is not true. He led me up the garden path. He said the relationship with Penny was over but now he seems to be seeing her again. They led me down the garden path and made me believe there would be a job for me.
lead someone up the garden pathgive someone misleading clues or signals. informal
The earliest (early 20th-century) examples of this phrase use just garden rather than garden path , which suggests that the original context was of someone enticing a person they wanted to seduce or flirt with out into a garden. A North American variant of the phrase is lead someone down the garden path .