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I'm sure there was one, I just can't remember what it is, and the ones I keep coming up with (like "challenge") don't seem to fit.

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To make it more clear, I was looking for a word with a more neutral connotation. –  Joe Z. Mar 8 '13 at 13:38
    
"Pulling the rug out from under someone" is not a neutral expression. –  Jim Mar 8 '13 at 15:31
    
A more neutral "version" meaning roughly the same thing, if you will. –  Joe Z. Mar 8 '13 at 15:44

4 Answers 4

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How about blindside, certain uses/connotations of betray (especially senses 2 and 3), and another idiom: throw under the bus.

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"Blindside" works. Thanks! –  Joe Z. Mar 8 '13 at 13:38

How about words like sabotage or double-cross, countermine, undermine, derange, or subvert?

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Damn, you beat me to it! +1 –  Canis Lupus Mar 8 '13 at 7:33

Disenfranchise means “to deprive someone of a franchise...”, a franchise typically being along the lines of “A right or privilege officially granted to a person, a group of people, or a company”. This term is suitable for formal use.

Closer to the spirit of the idiom in the question (“to pull the rug out from under one's feet”) are to floor (a person) (sense 3, “To silence by a conclusive answer or retort”) and to cut off at the knees (13, “to squelch or humiliate (a person) suddenly and thoroughly: [eg] The speaker cut the heckler off at the knees.”

Also consider undercut (“To undermine”) and synonyms, and discombobulate (“To throw into a state of confusion; to befuddle or perplex”).

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Also: confound, confuse, disorient.

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