leave the lurch


2 [lurch]
a situation at the close of various games in which the loser scores nothing or is far behind the opponent.
leave in the lurch, to leave in an uncomfortable or desperate situation; desert in time of trouble: Our best salesperson left us in the lurch at the peak of the busy season.

1525–35; < Middle French lourche a game, noun use of lourche (adj.) discomfited < Germanic; compare Middle High German lurz left (hand), Old English belyrtan to deceive

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World English Dictionary
lurch1 (lɜːtʃ)
1.  to lean or pitch suddenly to one side
2.  to stagger or sway
3.  the act or an instance of lurching
[C19: origin unknown]

lurch2 (lɜːtʃ)
1.  leave someone in the lurch to desert someone in trouble
2.  cribbage the state of a losing player with less than 30 points at the end of a game (esp in the phrase in the lurch)
[C16: from French lourche a game similar to backgammon, apparently from lourche (adj) deceived, probably of Germanic origin]

lurch3 (lɜːtʃ)
archaic, dialect or (intr) to prowl or steal about suspiciously
[C15: perhaps a variant of lurk]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

"sudden pitch to one side," 1819 (in Byron's "Don Juan"), from earlier lee-larch (1769), a nautical term for "sudden violent roll to leeward which a ship often takes in a high sea," perhaps from Fr. lacher "to let go," from L. laxus (see lax).

"predicament," 1584, from M.E. lurch (v.) "to beat in a game of skill (often by a great many points)," c.1350, probably lit. "to make a complete victory in lorche," a game akin to backgammon, from O.Fr. lourche. The game name is perhaps related to M.E. lurken, lorken "to lie hidden, lie in ambush," or
it may be adopted into Fr. from M.H.G. lurz "left," also "wrong."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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