Are there native expressions in oral and formal writing English about something happened - mostly negative incidents or events, but those, who should be responsible for it , don't want to undertake its responsibility or involve themselves in this.

  • 1
    It's a nobody's baby.
    – Kris
    Feb 27, 2014 at 5:34

3 Answers 3


A common phrase in the US is pass the buck

(informal) to evade blame or responsibility by trying to pass it to someone else


A countervailing phrase came into later usage, the buck stops here, to signify that the speaker was accepting responsibility.

Often the concept is expressed by negating terms for taking responsibility, as in

No one would step up

Not a single one of them would take the bull by the horns.

Won't anybody man up? [A bit sexist.]


A common phrase that might be said when something unfortunate happens:

Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan. (sarcasm)


Depending on the situation, mainly how people react to the problem, there are three different categories of expressions that may fit what you are looking for:

They blame someone else for the problem - They can be accused of "finger-pointing" or finding an "escape-goat".

They actively try to hide the problem - They can be said to be "sweeping things under the rug".

They try to pretend the problem doesn't exist - This is known as an "elephant in the room" that no one wants to talk about.

Otherwise, if they simply refuse to do anything about a problem, I would use the phrase "avoiding their responsibilities" or even "shirking responsibilities".

  • If none of those fit the bill, try to explain what you are looking for a bit more and I'll find more expressions.
    – IQAndreas
    Feb 27, 2014 at 5:30
  • Thank you Andreas, is there a verb or a pharse that to describe those people's behavior acting as blaming others?
    – Shan
    Feb 27, 2014 at 5:40
  • @ske The first group I listed should cover that category.
    – IQAndreas
    Feb 27, 2014 at 5:51
  • 1
    Actually it is the original term. The sins of the city's people were loaded onto the goat and it was allowed to escape the city, carrying the sins with it. It was quickly shortened to scapegoat.
    – Oldcat
    Feb 28, 2014 at 1:10
  • 1
    The OED is just jealous.
    – Oldcat
    Feb 28, 2014 at 17:26

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