[Ads-l] Idiom: throwing (shoving) under the bus [political sacrifice or removal]

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue Aug 30 01:12:30 UTC 2016

Back in June 2011 the idiom in the subject line was discussed on this
mailing list. Now, the Merriam-Webster website has an article with
some excellent citations. (I do not see a posting date for the
article; also the sole comment seems to be undated.)

Website: Merriam-Webster
Article title: Why Do We 'Throw Someone Under the Bus'?
Article subtitle: Let's blame the British
Date: Unknown


(Hat-tip to Aanel Victoria for her tweet to me.)

On Thu, Jun 23, 2011 at 3:49 PM, Garson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
> Stephen Goranson very kindly checked the 1985 (or 1984) citation for
> "shove under the bus" on paper at the Perkins Library (any errors in
> the following are mine).
> Book Title: The Virginia papers on the Presidency [serial].
> Publisher: Washington : University Press of America, [1979-
> Paper: "Presidential Nominations: A British Perspective" by Dennis
> Kavanagh (pp. 51-71)
> Description: Papers "presented at The Miller Center Forums, 1984 Part
> IV" but no exact date given.
> Book copyright: 1985.
> Volume: 19
> Quotation Page: 56-57
> Excerpt:
> In 1975 the party was stuck with a leader under whom it couldn't win
> an election. But there was no way of getting rid of him. All that had
> been achieved in 1965 was the introduction of a scheme for electing
> the party leader, but no procedure for the re-election of the leader.
> So they were stuck with him unless you could shove him under the bus.
> http://books.google.com/books?id=1hyHAAAAMAAJ&q=shove#search_anchor
> Charles C Doyle wrote:
>> But what exactly is the image in the expression "throw under
>> the bus"?  Do we envision the one to be thrown as riding on
>> the bus (presumably, then, in the very front), or standing beside
>> the street? On the basis of some of Garson's quotations--and
>> the wording of the variant "shove under the bus"--the latter
>> seems more probable.  Though it might be different if, say,
>> Mrs. Palin were to throw one of her assistants under the bus.
> When the phrase was discussed at the Word Detective website in 2008
> the following imagery was suggested:
> .. to me the phrase conjures up the classic urban nightmare of being
> pushed in front of a bus. As a way to quickly and irreversibly get rid
> of someone, “throwing” them under a bus in this sense would be the
> ideal solution and would satisfy the connotations of sudden, cold
> brutality the phrase usually carries.
> http://www.word-detective.com/2008/02/12/under-the-bus-to-throw/
> The Wikipedia entry contains similar imagery based on its 1990
> citation of a story by Charles Bukowski: Septuagenarian Stew (The Life
> of a Bum): "character Harry pushed his friend Monk in front of a bus,
> and then stole Monk's wallet."
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Throw_under_the_bus
> By default I think the unfortunate target is standing beside the street unaware.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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