To throw somebody to the wolves

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by DreamerX, Jan 8, 2014.

  1. DreamerX Member

    There is an expression in English: “to throw somebody to the wolves.” Slightly less common are “to feed…” and “to leave…” instead of “to throw…” It can mean two things. First of all, it may refer to sacrificing one person in order to save the rest. This only applies if there is a situation that might land many people in trouble but which the majority has a chance of getting out of if there is one person to take the fall for everybody else. The other meaning simply implies neglect. It’s typically used in the context of people who are closely connected in some way, e.g., family, friends, a mentor. If the people whom you have grown to rely on abandon you when you’re in dire straits, then they have thrown you to the wolves. I was wondering whether there was a similar expression in your language, and whether it refers to only one or both of the meanings described above.
  2. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Ha, thrown to the lions, you mean, voor de leeuwen geworpen. I think that custom refers to ancient Rome. But I am not quite sure whether it means the same, as your expression. It does not really mean the first, I think, more like the second: abandoned, ...
  3. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    In Greek we bring/leave/throw somebody «στο στόμα του λύκου» [sto 'stoma tu 'liku] --> in the mouth of the wolf.
    We also escape from it: «Γλίτωσα απ'το στόμα του λύκου» ['ɣlitosa apto 'stoma tu 'liku] --> I escaped from the mouth of the wolf.
    It means:
    i) To leave somebody helpless in the face of superior force
    ii) To do something imprudent, ill-considered that results in disaster
  4. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    The Russian expression is отдать/оставить/бросить на съедение волкам (lit. to give/leave/throw to the wolves for the eating). The meaning is to leave someone to fend for themselves in the face of adversity.

    Sometimes "wolves' are replaced by a more specific entity depending on the situation (e.g. journalists, public, mother in law :) etc...)
  5. arielipi Senior Member

    for the sacrifice meaning:
    לשלוח לעזאזל lishlo'akh la'azazel - to send to Azazel (= a desert)

    for the neglect, i cant think of one but i can for delivering someone into neglected status:
    להשאיר לכלבים lehash'ir laklavim - to leave for the dogs; it may come with wolves instead
    לזרוק לאשפתות lizrok la'ashpatot - to throw to the [archaic] garbage
    לגוב האריות legov ha'arayot - to the den of lions; though this is more active, as in Daniel.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2014
  6. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    Thank you for reminding me that we too use the lion den: «εἰς τὸν λάκκον τῶν λεόντων» (In Modern pronunciation): [is ton 'lako ton le'ondon] taken from the Book of Daniel (LXX Greek translation)
  7. SuperXW

    SuperXW Senior Member

    In Chinese Mandarin, 拖出去喂狗 "drag someone out to feed the dogs".
    Sometimes 拉出去喂猪, "pull him out to feed the pigs".
    If you are on a boat, you can say 扔进河里喂鳄鱼 "throw to the river to feed the crocodiles",
    in the sea, 扔进海里喂鲨鱼 "throw to the sea to feed the sharks"...

    These kind of jokes are usually used when someone disagree with you.

    An unique way in Chinese could be: "来人啊!把他给我拖出去斩了!"
    "Guards! Drag this man out and behead him!" (Saying it as you were the emperor.)
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2014
  8. DreamerX Member

    Actually, the saying, “to throw somebody to the wolves” is not that common for the first meaning any longer. It used to be more widespread but has since been replaced by “to throw somebody under the bus” and “to hang somebody out to dry.” The latter two are more commonly used when talking about people in trouble who single out one individual to take the blame for everybody else. “Throwing somebody to the wolves” usually means leaving people to their own devices when they are going through an ordeal, and typically involves people who are in a close relationship of some sort. I guess I’m not surprised that many of the equivalents in other languages only apply to the second meaning.

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