BBC Learning English: The English We Speak – Stab in the back: means he did something bad to you even though you thought you were friends. To stab someone in the back means to betray someone.
Harry and Feifei talk about a violent sounding expression that actually means a friend has said something against you.
Hello and welcome to The English We Speak! Harry with you here today, and joining me is Feifei.
Hello everybody! And the expression we are going to look at in this programme is ‘stab in the back’. So Harry, how are you?
[Distracted] What? Oh, not bad. Well… no, fine. Nothing.
What? You’re not telling me something. What’s the matter? Has something happened?
No, not really. I’m just annoyed with Jim. I don’t really want to talk about it.
But I thought you were friends.
Well, we were friends, until I discovered he stabbed me in the back…
Stabbed you in the back?!
Yes, exactly! He had a meeting with the boss, and right there, he stabbed me in the back! In front of everyone! I’m really annoyed.
But, surely you’re more than annoyed! I mean, if he stabbed you in the back – don’t you need an ambulance at least? I mean, it’s lucky he didn’t kill you. What did he stab you with? A knife?
Ah, no. He stabbed me in the back with his words. There was no actual violence.
He stabbed you with words?
Yes. To stab someone in the back means to betray someone. He knew that I wanted to handle the new video project, and he said he’d help me get it. But in the meeting he told the boss that I didn’t have enough experience to do a project like that.
Ah, so stab in the back means he did something bad to you even though you thought you were friends.
Here are some more examples of ‘stab in the back’.
A lot of young people think you have to stab people in the back to get ahead in business, but you don’t.
She told me she was in love with me, but then she stabbed me in the back and went out with Dave.
I wouldn’t trust Laura if I were you. She’s nice to your face, but then she stabs you in the back.
So, you’re not happy with Jim. But personally I’m just relieved. It could have been a lot worse. I mean, you’re not actually hurt. Remember sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you.
Well, that’s an expression for another programme!
You’re right. Today’s expression is to stab someone in the back. Not a very nice thing to do.
Join us again soon on The English We Speak.
The English We Speak – Stab in the back Transcript Video
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