Often an amateur will stitch up a professional


Senior Member
Hi there,

I'm watching Series 2 of the British comedy The Office.

There's a new boss at the office, and a larger staff coming down from another town. In a meeting, Neil, the new boss, talks to all the staff, and then David addresses these people as well.

David tries some jokes, and nobody laughs. He then talks to some of the people in his former staff, and says that Neil has not warmed up the crowd for him. And then he adds,

"Often an amateur will stitch up a professional."

How does "stitch up" work in this context? Urban Dictionary says, "If someone stitches you up, then they're playing you for a fool. It's often used when framing someone for a crime." In this sense, yes, "playing for a fool" might work, but other dictionaries give only
2. (Law) Slanga. to incriminate (someone) on a false charge by manufacturing evidence
b. to betray, cheat, or defraud

This is only for the slang sense; there is also, of course, the meaning of "to join or mend by means of stitches or sutures as well."

Or does David mean that Neil played him behind is back by not warming up the crowd on purpose? I'm asking because the dictionary gives another slang meaning, that of "to prearrange (something) in a clandestine manner."

I hope I haven't been confusing about what I'm asking.

Thank you!!
  • Tazzler

    Senior Member
    American English
    This seems to be primarily a British expression, so it's a little hard for me to understand it. I get the sense of "sabotage here," maybe even "one-up."
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi susanna

    It looks, to me, like the definition in the WR dictionary:
    2 (stitch someone up) Brit. informal manipulate a situation to someone's disadvantage.
    The idea is that Neil has deliberately not 'warmed up' the crowd in order to make David look foolish.

    (David's comment includes the added suggestion that Neil is an amateur, while David is a professional.)
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