16 Mar

Under the bus and scapegoat

Who taught : Ellen and Sheldon

throw under the bus

throw under the bus (source: http://www.projectmanager.com/)

It’s been a while. I am so sorry that I have not been able to update you with new expressions. In my defense, I have been extremely busy during the last few months. Still sounds like a lame excuse, I know…

I will try to do my best to not slack any more. Anyway, that does not mean there have been no new English expressions for me. In fact, there have been a lot.

As I mentioned before, one of the things I regularly do to improve my English is to watch diverse TV shows, at least one or two hours a day.

Sometimes, I get to hear the same expression over and over for a short period of time. And, there was one recently.

That’s “throw someone under the bus.”

First I heard it from watching Ellen Show and later heard again in Big Bang Theory.

If we take it literally, we would think that it should mean something like “murder someone” because that is exactly what would happen if we throw or push someone under the bus.

But, living in the United States, I have gotten better at catching the context. In both Ellen Show and Big Bang Theory, it was definitely not used to mean “murder someone.”

Instead, I felt that the expression should mean something like, “I do something that would hurt my friend to save myself from a bad situation.” Do you guys know “make a scapegoat of someone?” That was the feeling I had and fortunately I was right.

But, then I asked to myself this question, “why?” Who started to use this expression? According to my research, here is the best origin of the expression.

In Septuagenarian Stew (The Life of a Bum), published in 1990, the Charles Bukowski character Harry pushed his friend Monk in front of a bus, and then stole Monk’s wallet while Monk lay unconscious and probably dying in the street. After taking the wallet, Harry went directly to a bar and, using Monk’s money, bought himself two double whiskeys. Later, Harry went to the Groton Steak House and, again using Monk’s money, bought two beers and two Porterhouse steaks with fries (“go easy on the grease”).

What do you think? This origin really makes me feel the expression perfectly.

So, don’t throw your friend or someone close to you under the bus. Whatever bus it is, that would hurt them. You yourself would not want to be a scapegoat for anything, would you?

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