Stab someone in the back

Stab someone in the back

Idiom: Stab someone in the back


  • to hurt someone who was close to us and trusted us by betraying them secretly and breaking their trust. We call the person who does this a back stabber.
  • A betrayal of trust, an act of treachery
  • deceive or betray someone
  • to do harm to someone who trusted you


“Did you hear that Sarah stabbed Kate in the back last week?”

“No! I thought they were best friends, what did she do?”

“She told their boss that Kate wasn’t interested in a promotion at work and Sarah got it instead.”

“Wow, that’s the ultimate betrayal! No wonder they’re not friends anymore.”

“it was very competitive, with everyone stabbing everyone else in the back”

A lot of people in this business think they have to stab each other in the back to succeed.

She felt betrayed, as though her daughter had stabbed her in the back.

He denounced the defection as a stab in the back.

Don’t trust George; he’s been known to stab his friends in the back.

I cannot believe my friend stabbed me in the back by telling my teacher I wasn’t really sick when I stayed home yesterday.

Watch out for the director’s secretary because she’ll stab you in the back the first opportunity she gets. 

You’re going to love working here. Everyone’s really nice and you don’t have to worry about anyone stabbing you in the back.

I thought Jonathan was cool but he stabbed me in the back and I’m never going to tell him anything in confidence again.

The acting world is very competitive. You can expect to be stabbed in the back many times throughout your career. 

 Can you believe my sister stabbed me in the back by telling my parents I snuck out of the house last night?

When I was in trouble, all my friends stabbed me in the back.

These companies all want to pretend like they’re your friend, but they’ll stab you in the back the moment it makes financial sense for them.

The gangster’s second in command stabbed him in the back to assume control over the entire criminal organization.


The term originated in Germany just after World War I. The first reported use of it can be found in a report from England printed in ‘Neue Züricher Zeitung’ on 1 December 1918.

The German army felt that they had been betrayed by the politicians who signed The Treaty of Versailles. It was clear by this point that they were no match for the other side and defeat was inevitable. However, the army did not believe this and blamed the Jewish politicians for their loss. The story was perpetuated by Adolf Hitler when he was rising to power.

He used this “stabbed in the back” story to gain followers. Even though an inquiry proved that the story was not true, it became a part of German history.





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