Win by dubious means [expression for?]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Xavier da Silva, Sep 16, 2010.

  1. Hello everyone,

    I've been looking for an expression that means "try to win by dubious means, i.e, complaining a lot, accusing the opponents, making up stories, emphasizing negative things about the opponents, etc. Please, take a look at the contexts:

    Person 1: I know what you do behind the scenes, you are corrupt, you lie to people. I am the best candidate because I am honest, I don't lie and am the best prepared.

    Person 2: Mr. Person 1, you are trying to win by dubious means. I think I am good enough to govern this country. You should try to play fair, if you're so good then you don't need to accuse and criticize so much.

    ==>Is there an expression for "trying to win by dubious means", trying to resort to anything(good or bad), try to win at any cost?

    Thank you very much in advance!
  2. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    I think you've pretty well covered the possibilities, X.
  3. Thank you!

    So can I say, for example, "You're trying to win by dubious means" ? Isn't it too formal?

    Thank you in advance!
  4. kitenok Senior Member

    Hi Xavier,

    My first thought was the same as sdgraham's: "trying to win by dubious means" itself is a very good, clear expression of the idea, as are your other phrases.

    One possibility: to win dirty is to win by breaking or stretching the rules, intimidating your opponent, etc. It could be used in politics or sports. This phrase might have regional limitations -- it would sound natural in a conversation here in the southern US, but I'm not sure about other places. Example:

    A: Senator Bedfellow really has a tough fight on his hands against the tea-party guy. He's been running all sorts of attack ads.
    B: Yeah, I guess he thinks the only way he's going to get re-elected is to win dirty.
  5. Thank you very much for your time!
  6. JamesM

    JamesM modo no mas :)

    I've heard "fight dirty" but not "win dirty" (or "lose dirty"). I think you could also say "you're trying to win by hook or by crook" which means that you will do whatever it takes to win, even if it's unethical. That's an older phrase, though.

    You could also say:

    You'll do anything to win.
    You're not above doing anything if it means you win.
    You're dragging this campaign through the mud.
    You're running a campaign of dirty tricks.
  7. temple09 Senior Member

    English - British
    Maybe this in a UK English thing, but I think that one would say "play dirty" over "fight/win dirty".
    You could also perhaps use "you'd stop at nothing in order to win" to suggest that the person would not be averse to using underhand methods.
    Another expression is "you'd sell your grandmother in order to win". This may not directly imply cheating, but it suggests that the person's desire is so great that they would do whatever it takes in order to win, even if it demands doing something that most people would find to be unreasonable.

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