Throw under the bus

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"To throw (someone) under the bus" is an idiomatic phrase in American English[dubious ] meaning to betray a friend or ally for selfish reasons. It is typically used to describe a self-defensive disavowal and severance of a previously-friendly relationship when the relationship becomes controversial or unpopular or inconvenient.

The earliest known usage of this phrase was 21 June 1982, when Julian Critchley of The Times (London) wrote "President Galtieri had pushed her under the bus which the gossips had said was the only means of her removal."[1]

The phrase has been widely popularized by sports journalists since 2004[citation needed] and was picked up by the mainstream media during the 2008 political primary season. It has frequently been used to describe various politicians distancing themselves from suddenly unpopular or controversial figures whom the candidate has previously allied themselves with. David Segal, a writer for The Washington Post, calls the expression "the cliché of the 2008 campaign".[2]

In a March 2008 NPR report, the linguist Geoff Nunberg noted that "under the bus" "has appeared in more than 400 press stories on the campaign over the last six months".[3]


It seems possible that the expression throw/push/shove someone under the bus comes from Britain in the late 1970s or early 1980s.[4]

After Julian Critchley, a relatively early use is attributed by the website Double-Tongued Dictionary[5] to a 1991 article in the Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph.[6]

Cyndi Lauper[1] is sometimes wrongly quoted[7][8] as saying in The Washington Post in 1984: "In the rock ’n’ roll business, you are either on the bus or under it. Playing 'Feelings' with Eddie and the Condos in a buffet bar in Butte is under the bus." However, those lines were written by journalist David Remnick in an article about Lauper, but they are not attributed in the article to her or anyone else.[9]


  • Wired magazine asked "Did Egypt's Army Just Throw Mubarak Under the Bus?" after the Egyptian Army issued a statement saying it will not crack down on protesters during the Egyptian Revolution of 2011.[10]
  • ZDNet held a debate that asked, "Did Microsoft throw users under the bus?" after their announcement of Windows Phone 8.[11]
  • The Boston Globe headlined a story that asserted NFL coach "Bill Belichick throws Tom Brady under the bus" during the Deflategate scandal.[12]
  • The Haiti Sentinel published an article entitled "Election fraud: Red Cross throws Health Ministry under the bus" when the president of the agency said it was illegal for the Haitian government to use its brand and insignia on its vehicles. He was denying accusations that the international relief organization assisted in electoral fraud.
  • Shortly after Ann Curry was released from her cohosting duties on The Today Show, Today Show weatherman Al Roker hinted on-air that it was senior cohost Matt Lauer who "threw" Ann "under the bus".[13]
  • New York City's Patrolmen's Benevolent Association's president Patrick Lynch accused mayor Bill de Blasio of doing this to the NYCPD in 2014 when de Blasio spoke out against the Staten Island grand jury decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in that summer's chokehold death of Eric Garner and also told the press that he and his wife, Chirlane, had to have many conversations with their son, Dante, about taking special care in any encounters he may have with the police officers that are sworn to protect him, saying that "it's different for black men, especially young black men".


  1. ^ "Why Do We 'Throw Someone Under the Bus'?" Merriam-Webster website
  2. ^ Segal, David (April 2, 2008). "Time to Hit The Brakes On That Cliche". Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-10-26. This humble mode of transportation has become an unstoppable serial killer this presidential season, metaphorically speaking. Hardly a week goes by without someone reviving the cliche of the 2008 campaign – that a former ally of a candidate has been thrown under a bus.
  3. ^ Nunberg, Geoff (April 2, 2008). "Primaries Toss Some "Under the Bus"". Fresh Air. NPR. Retrieved 2008-10-26.
  4. ^ "Throw under the bus origin". The Idioms. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  5. ^ Barrett, Grant (October 2, 2006). "throw (someone) under the bus". Double-Tongued Dictionary. Retrieved 2009-01-02.
  6. ^ Emory, Erin (December 12, 1991). "Hood talks without thinking, friends testify at murder trial". Gazette Telegraph.
  7. ^ Safire, William (November 19, 2006). "Netroots". New York Times Magazine. Retrieved 2006-11-19.
  8. ^ Dokoupil, Tony (March 19, 2002). "'Under the Bus'". Newsweek. Retrieved 2009-01-02.
  9. ^ Remnick, David (September 7, 1984). "Pensive, With Orange Hair Cyndi Lauper & Her Tunes on Tour". Washington Post.
  10. ^ "Did Egypt's Army Just Throw Mubarak Under The Bus?", Spencer Ackerman, January 31, 2011.
  11. ^ "Did Microsoft throw users under the bus?"
  12. ^ "Bill Belichick throws Tom Brady under the bus", Ben Volin, January 22, 2015.
  13. ^ "Al Roker Suggests That Matt Lauer Threw Ann Curry "Under The Bus".", August 16, 2012

External links[edit]

The dictionary definition of throw under the bus at Wiktionary