Leave in the lurch

Leave in the lurch is an idiom that has been in use since the sixteenth century. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase, or phrasal verbs that have a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. These figures of speech often use descriptive imagery, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often colloquialisms or descriptors that are spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase or expression that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions that native speakers understand such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, chin up, eye to eye, barking up the wrong tree, bite the bullet, beat a dead horse, hit the nail on the head, kicked the bucket, blow off steam, jump on the bandwagon, piece of cake, hit the sack, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. It is possible to memorize a list of idioms, but it may be easier to pay attention to the use of idioms in everyday speech, where peculiar imagery will tell you that the expressions should not be taken literally. We will examine the meaning of the idiomatic phrase leave in the lurch, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

To leave in the lurch means to abandon someone who is in trouble, to desert someone and leave him to clean up a mess or deal with a difficult situation. Related phrases are leaves in the lurch, left in the lurch, leaving in the lurch. The idiom leave in the lurch was first used in the 1500s and is derived from a French board game known as lourche. Lourche involved a board that resembled a cribbage board but was said to have rules similar to backgammon. Unfortunately, the rules have become lost and the game fell out of favor in the 1600s. A player was put in a lurch when he was in a position from which he could not win. Cribbage players are also put in a lurch if they don’t make it half way around the board before the winner crosses the finish.


The YSRCP government would not leave in the lurch the farmers who had parted with their land in Amaravati for the construction capital during the TDP term, Energy Minister Balineni Srinivasa Reddy asserted on Saturday. (The Hindu)

Vogel’s ouster may leave in the lurch a number of property owners who were leasing the Wendy’s restaurant buildings to him. (The Dalles Chronicle)

“Students of a city design school have been left in the lurch after the school, which offers graduate and diploma courses, closed down without any notice,” states a story that appeared in The Hindu newspaper in 2016 about the closure of the Raffles Millennium International college in Bangalore, India. (The Santa Fe Reporter)

Leave a Comment