Hang out to dry

Hang out to dry is an idiom that has been in use for decades. We will examine the meaning of the idiom hang out to dry, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

Hang out to dry means to abandon someone, to desert someone who is in trouble, or to leave him behind. Often, the expression hang out to dry is used to mean to allow someone else to take all the blame for a situation that does not turn out well. The phrase hang out to dry is sometimes rendered as left out to dry. The expression came into use in the middle of the twentieth century and is presumed to be an allusion to clothes hanging on a line to dry. The phrase carries a connotation of helplessness, like clothes pinned to a line and at the mercy of the sunshine and wind. Related phrases are hangs out to dry, hung out to dry, hanging out to dry.


Theresa May and Boris Johnson let the former chief Brexit negotiator Olly Robbins and other civil servants hang out to dry after they became “targets for political attacks”, an investigation into Whitehall’s role in the Brexit drama of the past four years has found. (The Guardian)

He described long fights to get the IRF to pay his client’s claims, often leading to a stalemate — if he and his client wanted compensation above the IRF’s $1 million cap for civil rights claims, they’d have to sue individual employees, who are left to “hang out to dry” by the IRF if they’re sued, he said. (The Charleston Post and Courier)

Unfortunately, working families and early childhood caregivers have been hung out to dry by the Trump administration from the beginning. (The Las Vegas Sun)

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