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Carry the can

Posted by James Briggs on June 21, 2005

In Reply to: Carry the can posted by Carl Foreman on June 21, 2005

: Hi. Where does the phrase carry the can derive?

: thanks

I've never found a documented origin - perhaps I haven't spent enough time on it. However, here's what I have in my collection.

"To carry the can means to take the blame for something in which others have also taken part and are largely responsible. The origin here is not clear, but probably goes back to the days of servitude when menial tasks had to be performed for the benefit of others, such as the scullery maid working for the head cook."

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