slip through one's fingers, to let

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let (someone or something) slip through (one's) fingers

1. To fail to catch, capture, or maintain custody of someone, usually due to their cunning or trickery. The officers very nearly apprehended the suspect, but let him slip through their fingers at the last second. We had the cell guarded by three people, but still we let her slip through our fingers somehow.
2. To fail to achieve something or make use of an opportunity. I had a chance to be a part of a Broadway musical once, but I was too unsure of myself and let it slip through my fingers. We've been training too hard to let another championship title slip through our fingers again this year!
See also: finger, let, slip, through
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

slip through someone's fingers

1. Lit. to slide through and out of one's grasp. The glass slipped through his fingers and crashed to the ground. The rope slipped through his fingers and followed the anchor to the bottom of the lake.
2. Fig. to escape from someone; to elude someone's capture or control. The prisoner slipped through the sheriff's fingers. Don't let Max slip through your fingers again this time!
See also: finger, slip, through
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

slip through one's fingers, to let

To fail to seize an opportunity. This metaphor has been around since the seventeenth century. Beaumont and Fletcher used it in The Prophetess (1622, 3.2): “Hold her fast, She’ll slip thorow your fingers like an Eel else.”
See also: let, slip, through, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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