'Cut one off, or loosen grip'. Meaning if someone asks you to do something for them and you accept, but you then just don't do it. We have an idiom that translates something around the lines of 'he cut me off or he loosened his grip'. They come from the idea of one holding on to a rope and the other person is below him and he cuts the rope or loosens his grip and he just falls. (It may be down to the fact that the person is putting more weight on the rope or because you can no longer hold on, so it's pretty much the same thing that he's going to burden you with something, and at that time you didn't have the impropriety and indecency to disappoint him/ it felt hard to say it to his face etc. so you just had to accept although falsely). That person has entrusted you and put confidence in you and then you just completely disregard him and forget about him for some reason or another. Similar idiom?

  • 2
    We use to let someone down “I trusted him, but he let me down
    – Jim
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 5:17
  • The word is renege.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 12:00

3 Answers 3


As Jim comments, a common usage is "He let me down". For example: "He promised to mend my car but he let me down"; "We arranged to eat together but she let me down".

  • Actually, She "stood you up." :)
    – W9WBH
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 11:35
  • 1
    Nice! A neat and rather amusing contrast of two acceptable phrases: she stood me up or let me down. But I would not say my garage mechanic stood me up! I am not that sort of fellow.
    – Anton
    Commented Aug 4, 2015 at 13:25

"He flaked on me." Someone who habitually fails to do as promised is a flake. It does not conjure the same mental image as "he loosened his grip", but it means the same thing idiomatically.

The most common usage of the verb "flake" is when someone agrees to meet someone else (especially on a date) and then does not show up. But the verb applies equally well to any kind of decision not to meet a commitment.

Another answer says "he let me down." While this idiom conjures a mental image similar to "he loosened his grip", its meaning is broader. "He let me down" really means "he disappointed me". It could mean "he refused to do as promised" or "he tried and failed" or "he did a bad job" or "he waited until it was too late" or "I was left unsatisfied."

But "he flaked on me" specifically means "he intentionally did not do what he agreed to do."

  • I've never heard the 'flake' one but I agree with 'let me down' which is a very common phrase. Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 18:52
  • @chaslyfromUK maybe "flake" is an American thing.
    – Jordan
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 21:07
  • I don't ever recall "flake" used in this sense. "Flaked out" may be used for someone who left a group of comrades when the going got tough.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 12:02
  • @Jordan - I'm from the UK, and familiar with that use of "flake". (This may be due to the significant amount of time I spend watching US sitcoms though).
    – AndyT
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 14:51

Drop the ball, as in "I counted on him but he 'dropped the ball.'"

Similarly: "Hung me out to dry"; "Left me high and dry"; "Left me hanging".

  • "Drop the ball" means failed, rather than chose not to do something he's said he would. Your other answers have some merit. They could all do with a definition of the phrase though.
    – AndyT
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 14:52
  • Say what? If you choose not to do something, then of course you have failed to do it! If for example, my husband said he'd pick up the laundry from the dry cleaners after work, but decided to go out for beers with the guys instead. Yeah, he sure as hell did "drop the ball!" And then he'd be "in the doghouse" too! :)
    – W9WBH
    Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 9:32
  • Not sure what you're struggling with here. Yes, if you choose not to do something, then you have failed to do it. BUT if you have failed to do something it does not necessarily mean that you chose not to do it. OP wanted something which meant chose not to do it; you gave him something which meant failed.
    – AndyT
    Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 9:42
  • Not sure why you want to reduce a phrase with a rather broad spectrum of usage, down to a single word. That's a fail. Sven Yargs covered this topic quite thoroughly on this site, in response to "The history of the phrase, "to drop the ball." [closed] from March 31. Needs no further clarification there.
    – W9WBH
    Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 10:25

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