bum rap

Idioms & Phrases

bum rap

A false accusation or conviction; also, unfair criticism or action. For example, He claimed he was in prison on a bum rap, or The theater critics gave her last play a bum rap. This expression originated in the 1920s as underworld slang, and by the mid-1900s it was also used figuratively for other kinds of injustice.

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