villain of the piece, the

Idioms & Phrases

villain of the piece, the

The person to blame for what is bad or wrong, as in I'm afraid the caterer is the villain of the piecethe food wasn't ready for hours. The piece in this term alludes to a play in which the villain is the character whose evildoing is important to the plot. [Mid-1800s]

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