Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Like this video? Subscribe to our free daily email and get a new idiom video every day!
a stab in the back
A betrayal; an act of treachery. It felt like a stab in the back to hear that Paul was going out with my ex-girlfriend. The campaign coordinator's mid-race shift of allegiance will be quite a stab in the back for the incumbent president.
a stab in the dark
1. A guess or estimate with very little or no assurance as to its accuracy; a wild guess. Well, this is just a stab in the dark, but I'm going to say that the answer to the question is Countess Constance Markievicz.
2. An attempt (at something) which is not expected to succeed or has very little chance of working. It was really just a stab in the dark when I tried to fix our washing machine, but I was actually able to get it working again on my first try!
take a stab in the dark
To make a guess or estimate with very little or no assurance as to its accuracy. I had absolutely no idea what the answer was for the last question on the exam, so I just took a stab in the dark and hoped for the best.
take a stab at (something)
To attempt (to do) something; to take a turn trying (to do) something. Well, I haven't fixed a motor in nearly 10 years, but I'll certainly take a stab at it. You had your chance, now let your sister take a stab at trying to break the piñata.
a shot in the dark
1. A guess or estimate with very little or no assurance as to its accuracy. Well, this is just a shot in the dark, but I'm going to say that the answer to the question is 52.
2. An attempt that is not expected to succeed or has very little chance of working. It was really just a shot in the dark when I tried to fix our washing machine, but I was actually able to get it working again on my first try!
have a stab at (doing something)
To attempt to do something; to take a turn trying to do something. Well, I haven't fixed a motor in nearly 10 years, but I'll certainly have a stab at it. You had your chance, now let your sister have a stab at trying to break the piñata.
make a stab at (something)
To attempt (to do) something; to take a turn trying (to do) something. Well, I haven't fixed a motor in nearly 10 years, but I'll certainly make a stab at it. You had your chance, now let your sister make a stab at trying to break the piñata.
stab (one) in the back
To betray someone's confidence or trust. These companies all want to pretend like they're your friend, but they'll stab you in the back the moment it makes financial sense for them. The gangster's second in command stabbed him in the back to assume control over the entire criminal organization.
stab at someone or something
to thrust at someone or something with something sharp, such as a knife. The horrid man stabbed at me and missed. The stork stabbed at the frog with its beak.
stab someone in something
to stab someone in a particular place. Max stabbed a prison guard in the belly and left him to die. Tom stabbed himself in the thigh by accident.
stab someone in the back
1. Lit. to thrust a knife into someone's back. Max planned to stab his hostage in the back if he screamed. The murderer stabbed his victim in the back and fled.
2. Fig. to betray someone. I wish you would not gossip about me. There is no need to stab me in the back.
stab something at someone or something
to thrust something at someone or something. The hunter stabbed a stick at the bear to see if there was any life at all left in it. The stork tried to stab its beak at me as I held it, but I held tight while the vet examined it.
thrust something into someone or somethingand thrust something in
to stab or run something into someone or something. The knight thrust his lance into the villain. He thrust in his knife.
See also: thrust
*try at someoneand *shot at someone; *crack at someone; *go at someone *stab at someone
an attempt to convince someone of something; an attempt to try to get information out of someone; an attempt to try to train someone to do something. (The expressions with shot and crack are more informal than the main entry phrase. (*Typically: take ~; have ~; give someone ~.) Let me have a crack at him. I can make him talk. Let the new teacher have a try at Billy. She can do marvels with unwilling learners. Give me a crack at him. I know how to make these bums talk.
See also: try
*try at somethingand *shot at something; *crack at something; *go at something; *stab at something; *whack at something
to take a turn at trying to do something. (*Typically: take ~; have ~; give someone ~.) All of us wanted to have a try at the prize-winning shot. Let Sally have a shot at it. If you let me have a crack at it, maybe I can be successful.
See also: try
make a stab at
Try to do something, as in I don't know the answer but I'll make a stab at it. This expression derives from stab in the sense of "a vigorous thrust." [Late 1800s] Also see make a pass at, def. 2.
stab in the back, a
A betrayal of trust, an act of treachery, as in Voting against our bill at the last minute was a real stab in the back. It is also put as stab someone in the back, meaning "betray someone." For example, Don't trust George; he's been known to stab his friends in the back. Both the noun and verb forms of this idiom, alluding to a physical attack when one's back is turned, date from the early 1900s.
stab someone in the back
COMMON If someone that you trust stabs you in the back, they secretly do something which hurts and betrays you. She was incredibly disloyal. She would be your friend to your face, and then stab you in the back. She felt betrayed, as though her daughter had stabbed her in the back. Note: You can also talk about a stab in the back, meaning an action or remark which hurts and betrays someone. It's a stab in the back for all Manchester United fans. Note: You can also talk about back-stabbing, meaning talk or gossip which is intended to harm someone. People begin to avoid one another, take sides, be drawn into gossip and back-stabbing.
a shot in the darkor
a stab in the dark
If a guess is a shot in the dark or a stab in the dark, it is not based on facts, but there is a small chance that it will be right. Our strategy is based on good intelligence. This is not a shot in the dark. He described the government's figures as a stab in the dark.
a shot (or stab) in the darkan act whose outcome cannot be foreseen; a mere guess.
The metaphorical use of in the dark to mean ‘in a state of ignorance’ dates from the late 17th century.
a stab in the backa treacherous act or statement; a betrayal.
a shot/stab in the ˈdarka guess; something you do without knowing what the result will be: The figure he came up with was really just a shot in the dark.
have a stab at something/at doing something(informal) try something/doing something, especially if you have never done it before: I had a stab at fishing once but I found it boring.
stab somebody in the ˈback,
get, etc. a stab in the ˈback(informal) do or say something that harms somebody who trusts you; be treated this way: Jane promised to support me at the meeting, but then she stabbed me in the back by supporting David instead. ▶ a ˈback-stabber, ˈback-stabbing nouns: This party is full of back-stabbers. ♢ There is always a lot of back-stabbing in academic life.
stab (someone) in the back
To harm (someone) by treachery or betrayal of trust.