They sold the stocks out from under me.

Is this "sold the stocks out from under me" common? It seems to mean they defrauded me.

  • 3
    No that whole phrase is not a common idiom. Just "out from under me" is a common idiom. But "they sold the stocks" just means what it says.
    – GEdgar
    Dec 11 '13 at 16:18
  • Where did you find this expression? If it's from a novel, could you give its name, and perhaps supply us with the following lines?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 13 '13 at 6:17

There is an idiom that employs the latter half of your sentence:

Pulling the rug (out) from under someone

This idiom is quite self-explanatory: it simply means to remove some kind of vital support in a swift, surprising fashion. Imagine Person A standing on a small rug, and then Person B comes along and pulls as hard as they can—Person A will obviously fall over because the ground under his feet seems to disappear.

In the sentence you have here, the same kind of effect is being applied to someone selling stocks in a kind of semi-idiomatic way. Now stocks are naturally not quite as easy to be physically reliant on, but you can imagine them as forming the basis of some kind of (financial) support.

Say Person A (different Person A this time—the other one’s been mistreated enough) is in financial trouble, but has worked out some complex scheme to get back on track. To this end, he is relying on some stock that he has to use (as some kind of leverage, say) to make the scheme work properly. The stocks belong to Person B (same Person B as before—he’s a right plonker!).

So imagine that Person A has set his brilliant scheme in motion, and all is going well … until all of a sudden, Person B decides to sell the stocks in question. Seeing as Person A was quite reliant on these stocks, he’s very likely to suddenly feel that Person B has sold the stocks out from under him.

  • I did first think of pulling the rug under from someone's feet and am convinced that does not apply here. In fact changed my answer.The implication here is, he was defrauded because they stole the stocks from under him.From under his nose...without his knowledge.Pulling the rug, has an element of surprise, withdrawal of support and is not necessarily sneaky. Dec 12 '13 at 8:02
  • @PreetieSekhon: The idiom "out from under me" is very much the same idiom active in "pulling the rug out from under me."
    – MrHen
    Dec 17 '13 at 21:28
  • @username901345, why the sudden unaccept?!? Feb 11 '14 at 10:02

The only idiom close to it that I have heard of is:

under somebody's nose

if something bad happens under your nose, it happens very close to you but you do not notice it.

I'm amazed that it was going on right under his nose all that while and he didn't realize.


So what you could be saying is an abridged version of:

They sold the stocks right under my nose.

i.e. They sold they stocks without my knowledge, while I was there all along.

So "sold the stocks out from under me" is not idiomatic but as it a common situation, could be an oft used expression.

  • 2
    That is a different idiom, and I’d say it has a different meaning. Dec 11 '13 at 20:28

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