sell down the river


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Related to sell down the river: haul over the coals, sell someone down the river

sell down the river

Betray, as in They kept the merger a secret until the last minute, so the employees who were laid off felt they'd been sold down the river . This expression, dating from the mid-1800s, alludes to slaves being sold down the Mississippi River to work as laborers on cotton plantations. Its figurative use dates from the late 1800s.
See also: down, river, sell

sell down the river

Informal
To betray the trust or faith of.
See also: down, river, sell