stab


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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.
See also: back, stab

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!
See also: dark, stab

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.
See also: dark, stab, take

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.
See also: stab, take

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!
See also: dark, shot

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.
See also: have, stab

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.
See also: make, stab

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.
See also: back, stab

stab at (someone or something)

1. noun An attempt at or turn doing something, especially when one is uncertain of one's ability to succeed. 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 have a stab at breaking the piñata.
2. verb To thrust some sharp, pointed instrument in one's hand in the direction of someone or something. A noun or pronoun can be used between "stab" and "at" to specify what is being used to stab. The fencer stabbed at her opponent, but left herself open to attack in the process. He was stabbing a fork at the seal on the package when he slipped and accidentally pierced his hand.
See also: stab

stab (someone or something) in (something)

To pierce a person or animal in some particular part of the body (with some sharp, pointed implement). The attacker stabbed her in the leg and then ran off with her purse. The lion pounced on me, but I managed to stab it in chest before it could overpower me.
See also: stab

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.
See also: stab

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.
See also: stab

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.
See also: back, stab

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.
See also: stab

thrust something into someone or something

 and 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 someone

 and *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 something

 and *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.
See also: make, stab

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.
See also: stab

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.
See also: back, someone, stab

a shot in the dark

or

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.
See also: dark, shot

a shot (or stab) in the dark

an 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.
See also: dark, shot

a stab in the back

a treacherous act or statement; a betrayal.
See also: back, stab

a shot/stab in the ˈdark

a 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.
See also: dark, shot, stab

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.
See also: have, something, stab

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.
See also: back, somebody, stab

stab (someone) in the back

To harm (someone) by treachery or betrayal of trust.
See also: back, stab

stab in the back, a

A treacherous attack. Surprisingly, this term has been used figuratively only since the early twentieth century; literally it must be as old as the word “stab” (fourteenth century). Rudyard Kipling used it in Limits and Renewals (1932): “He . . . stabs me in the back with his crazy schemes for betterment.”
See also: stab
References in periodicals archive ?
The 21-foot rule, a dogma of law enforcement training, has held that at a distance closer than 21 feet, a suspect with an edged weapon in hand could stab an officer before that officer could fire two shots.
The suspect is still under arrest but is currently with custody officers in hospital being treated for his stab injuries.
"The operation room received a call from SMC about a person from Hamad Town with stab wounds in his body because of a fight," it said yesterday.
Huddersfield University says its external weekend and night-time contractors have chosen to wear stab vests.
ALERT J Police arrive at the scene EMERGENCY n Paramedics work on the stab victims in Dungannon, Co Tyrone, on Thursday
The calls came as new figures, released by hospital trusts around the North, show at least one person is treated for stab wounds every day.
They found the 53-year-old dead in the house and a postmortem the following day revealed she had died of multiple stab wounds.
Mr Harwood suffered a two- inch-deep wound to his chest and another stab wound to his leg.
This standard and program will allow law enforcement and corrections officers to purchase stab armor with confidence.
Another teenager, aged 16, who was found with stab wounds in nearby Shacklewell Road, was taken to hospital.
On Tuesday another stab victim was found in West Hampstead, north west London, at about 8pm.
"He stabbed me about 10cm deep in my back and a second stab on my thigh and then escaped.
He said she died as a result of shock and haemorrhage following the stab wounds, particularly the one to the neck.
A neighbour who called the police said he saw the victim with stab injuries.