leave holding the bag

Idioms & Phrases

leave holding the bag

Abandon someone, force someone to bear the responsibility or blame. For example, Her friends said they were too busy to help with cleaning up, and left Lucy holding the bag. This expression is often put as be left holding the bag, as in When they quit the clean-up committee, Lucy was left holding the bag. This idiom grew out of the earlier give one the bag (to hold), which dates from about 1600 and alludes to being left with an empty bag while others have taken the valuable contents. Also see leave in the lurch.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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