Did someone say to you, 'stab someone in the back,' and you’re wondering what it means? In this article, we’ll take a look at the meaning, origin, examples, and more.
If someone uses the phrase to ‘stab someone in the back,’ they are referring to an act of treachery or betrayal. Another way to put it would be to say that ‘stabbing someone in the back’ means doing something hurtful or harmful to a person that trusted you.
To use this phrase, you can replace the word ‘someone’ with the proper noun or pronoun. You can also change the tense of the verb ‘stab’ to fit the statement you are making.
Here are some examples:
Let’s say that there are two friends that have known each other for a long time, Jim and John. Even though Jim knew that John had been madly in love with a woman named Sally for years, he asked her out anyway. John could say that Jim ‘stabbed him in the back,’ as this could be easily seen as a betrayal of their trust and friendship.
It’s unclear when the phrase ‘stab someone in the back’ first emerged, but it isn’t terribly hard to imagine how it came to be an idiom. After all, if someone stabs you in the back, it doesn’t just mean that they are harming you but that they approached you from behind.
Though it’s hard to know exactly when this phrase was first used, themes of betrayal have been explored in literature for thousands of years. In the Shakespeare play Julius Caesar, for example, Brutus betrays Caesar by participating in his assassination– definitely a ‘stab in the back’!
Other famous works that incorporate betrayal as a major theme include:
How would 'stab someone in the back' be used in a sentence?
Let’s take a look at some examples:
What are some other words and phrases that, like ‘stab someone in the back,’ have to do with betrayal, treachery, and an untrustworthy person?
Here are some options:
To ‘stab someone in the back’ means to harm someone that trusted you. If you told your friend that you would keep a secret they told you, for example, and then you went and told everyone you knew, they might say that you ‘stabbed them in the back.’
Are you ready to learn more English phrases and expand your vocabulary? Be sure to check out our idioms blog for idioms, expressions, sayings, and more!
It's important to share the news to spread the truth. Most people won't.