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Thread: Hold the bag

  1. #1
    Judge Brybe is offline Junior Member
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    Default Hold the bag

    ... the main result of counterfeiting which is
    eventually discovered is to bilk the person caught “holding the
    bag” ...
    From Walter Block's Defending the Undefendable.


    Now, the UsingEnglish dictionary of idioms defines 'hold the bag' as 'to be responsible for', while some other dictionaries add 'suffer losses', 'be duped' or even 'be assigned blame'.
    Which is more to the point in the above quote? Is it a widely-used expression or would it 'date' you if you use it in your everyday speech?

    Thanx a $1 mln.

  2. #2
    Route21's Avatar
    Route21 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Hold the bag

    Hi Judge Brybe

    The Free Dictionary has the following entry under "Idioms":

    hold the bag - definition of hold the bag by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia.

    hold the bag
    Informal

    1.
    To be left with empty hands.

    2. To be forced to assume total responsibility when it ought to have been shared.

    As an informal term, it could mean whatever the user intends it to mean at the time, with the most regularly accepted versions being picked up by dictionaries.

    In this case, the first version suggests that the bag is empty
    The second version is close to the related term "carry the can"

    Hope this helps
    R21

  3. #3
    JMurray is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Hold the bag

    ... the main result of counterfeiting which is eventually discovered is to bilk the person caught “holding the bag” ...

    I think the meaning here is that when a counterfeiting operation is discovered, the person who is most likely to lose out is the innocent one left with the fake money at the end. The previous passers of the money, going back to the original counterfeiters, will have all made their profits and disappeared.

  4. #4
    Judge Brybe is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Hold the bag

    Thanx everyone!
    The meaning of the sentence (given the context) is absolutely clear, but it throws little light on the meaning of the idiom. I think I'll opt for Route21's suggestion that 'it could mean whatever the user intends it to mean at the time'. SUCH a useful idiom!

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