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Stab in the back

Posted by Pamela on July 05, 2007

In Reply to: Stab in the back posted by R. Berg on July 04, 2007

: : : My colleague has just asked if there is a meaning to a phrase we have both heard and used. It is:

: : : Stab you in the back as soon as look at you

: :
: : To "stab you in the back" means the person will betray a confidence for personal gain, without regard to the consequences you will suffer. "As soon as look at you" means they will do it without hesitation.

: I understand "stab ... in the back" to have a broader meaning than betraying confidences. The person will do something sneaky that hurts you: starting false rumors, taking credit for your work, seducing your spouse, anything. ~rb

I thought that "stab you in the back" had the implication that someone was two-faced; they treat you in one manner to your face but then, when your back is turned, do you harm of some sort. It isn't just someone who does something sneaky that hurt you - the implication is that you would never suspect them of this. Pamela