A couple of days ago, my wife and I had planned a surprise visit to our friends living in a neighboring state on account of their first wedding anniversary.

But at the very last minute, we got notified by our travel operator that there was an impromptu agitation by the farmers of the neighboring state and all transport services were cancelled since the protest was turning violent.

This happened when we were about to board our bus. We'd to return to our homes (some 50 kms away from the bus station) disappointed and angry. We also had to cancel all the surprise events we'd organized for our friends which did some considerable damage to our pockets. I'm wondering if there's an idiom/expression for this scenario?

Possible usage example:

We were super excited to meet our friends during the weekend but the farmers' agitation brought all our excitement to a grinding halt. We _______________.

A phrase that I considered was high and dry but we were not stranded per se, as the meaning implies.

Is there an idiom/phrase that fits this context?

  • 1
    You already have grinding halt for this.
    – NVZ
    Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 9:11
  • 1
    Stood up, maybe? Perhaps a bit of a stretch. Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 15:41
  • 2
    Haha. I wanted to ask you if this was TN/KA, then I checked your profile and realized that it certainly is.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 23:35
  • 1
    @Fiksdal That makes 2 of us! I had the same question and got the answer the same way.. Amusing!
    – insanity
    Commented Sep 14, 2016 at 9:02
  • 3
    @P.O. They are abbreviations for the names of the states referred to in OP, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Sep 14, 2016 at 15:02

10 Answers 10


"All dressed up and nowhere to go" suitably implies that the preparations you made came to nothing. It calls to mind imagery of someone being stood up for a date, but applies more broadly (IMHO) to any circumstances where potentially costly preparations are frustrated.

From TFD

that has been postponed or has failed to materialize. (May be literal or figurative.)

Tom: I just heard that your company is closed today.
Fred: Gee, I'm all dressed up and nowhere to go.  

"The space shot was cancelled, so all the astronauts are all dressed up with nowhere to go."

  • 3
    I think this one is best. To me, the idiom calls to mind dressing up for a fancy party, only to have the party cancelled.
    – Xalorous
    Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 17:16

Sounds to me you were crestfallen:

Dispirited and depressed; dejected.

I also kind of like deflated, which is highly metaphorical. The spirit-soul-air-breath connection goes back millennia:

Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being [or soul] (Genesis 2:7 NASB).

Picture two people who are "pumped" for an upcoming event. Suddenly and out of nowhere they are told their plans have to be scrapped. They're no longer pumped; they're deflated. Whoosh. Out goes the spirit (or soul, air, breath).

From the same link as above, I found the following adjectives, each of which is apt in some way:

  • disappointed

  • depressed

  • discouraged

  • dejected

  • despondent

  • downcast

  • disheartened

  • disconsolate

  • downhearted

  • sick as a parrot (informal)


"A bit of an anticlimax that was."

For a let-down after a nice build-up perhaps anticlimax will serve.

A disappointing end to an exciting or impressive series of events:
the rest of the journey was an anticlimax by comparison



One colloquial idiom would be burst your bubble

To ruin someone's happy moment

A Scottish idiom I really like is "put someone's gas at (or in) a peep". This refers to turning down a gas burner, on a stove for example, to its lowest possible level without going out. So the visual image is having a large flame suddenly being turned down to a tiny flicker.

It is more frequently used to describe putting someone in their place, but can be used in a situation the OP describes.


You could say:

"We were super excited to meet our friends during the weekend but the farmers' agitation brought all our excitement to a grinding halt. We felt circumstances had rained on our parade."

"We were super excited to meet our friends during the weekend but the farmers' agitation brought all our excitement to a grinding halt. We were literally stopped dead in our tracks."

From The Free Dictionary:

rain on someone's parade: to spoil something for someone; to spoil someone's plans or pleasure; to do something that spoils someone's plans

stop (dead) in your tracks: to suddenly stop moving or doing something something (dead) in its tracks:

stop (somebody) in their tracks: if something stops someone in their tracks, or if they stop in their tracks, they suddenly stop what they are doing

Rained on our parade better captures your wife's and your bitter disappointment.


I say that the person (or in this case, the travel company) "bailed on me."

Bail - dictionary.com

  1. bail out,
    to give up on or abandon something, as to evade a responsibility:
    His partner bailed out before the business failed.

"On me" in the sense that I was depending on them, as in "gave up on me" or "changed sides on me."

So putting it together, the offending party abondonned their responsibility (ie. plans), when I was depending on them.

I'm not sure whether this is regional, but generally, people I speak to can fill in the understood "out."


Left at the altar has all the connotations you want, but it does literally mean that someone has failed to turn up to your wedding.

Thesaurus.com gives the following synonyms, many of which have been mentioned by other answers, which would indicate that my answer is good.

Definition: abandoned
Synonyms: cast off, derelict, deserted, desolate, destitute, disowned, forlorn, friendless, godforsaken, ignored, isolated, jilted, left at the altar, left behind, left in the lurch, lonely, lorn, marooned, outcast, solitary, thrown over


To be let down comes to mind.

  • to disappoint someone by failing to do what you agreed to do or were expected to do

Relevant, but not a perfect fit for "last-minute disappointment".

Cheesed offCambridge

adj. (after verb) Annoyed and disappointed with something or someone.
"She's a bit cheesed off with her job."

Cut (sb) to the quickCambridge

to hurt someone's feelings a lot
"Her thoughtless remark cut him to the quick."

  • 1
    Haha Cheesed off totally Canadian. Maybe Wisconsin or nearby. Stop cheesing me off eh! Ya hoser! Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 18:40

"We were hit by a bombshell."


n. A stunning piece of news that is dropped without warning. (see also bomb.)
"I am still recovering from your bombshell of last evening."

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