Is there an expression or idiom describing a situation, where one person does some (perhaps irreversible) action or makes an important decision, without consulting another person. Thus, putting the other person in front of a fact? It exists in my language and I wonder if there's an English equivalent.

This is similar to "fait accompli", but the emphasis is on the inconsiderate behavior, rather than the potential irreversibility of the action. However, this isn't the same as acting behind someone's back, because it has no sense of acting secretly or sneakingly. E.g. a husband says to his wife: "My boss asked me if I can stay extra hours today and I agreed", and she protests: "You should have asked me first! I wanted us to go to the Jonsons for dinner".

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    In that case, an answer such as 'steamroller' at to forcefully do something you're not supposed to do is probably what you want. Or an adjective such as tyrannical, dictatorial, domineering, overbearing, authoritarian, arrogant, autocratic, imperious ... Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 9:38
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    'Tyranically' is at the 'Genghis Khan' end of the spectrum. 'Overbearingly' is more reasonable here. And I'd restructure: "He acted overbearingly, presenting me with a fait accompli." Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 9:52
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    The fait accompli implies inconsiderate behaviour. It has nothing to do with irreversibility. It's not normally necessary to be explicit about the behaviour because fait accompli expresses that itself.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 10:10
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    I don't really understand this question (so I won't post this as an answer), but "doing something behind someone's back" has the meaning of doing some action or making an important decision without consulting another person, and it's semantically analogous to "putting someone in front of a fact." Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 20:19
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    If "putting someone in front of a fact" means confronting or presenting someone with a "done deal" (or at least a situation that would make them look like the villain if they disagreed), it often results in the person feeling like they're being "put on the spot".
    – Papa Poule
    Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 13:47

3 Answers 3


The husband presumed upon his wife to accept his fait accompli. Basically, you have the state affairs; and you have the (possibly) presumptuous act from which it sprang.

presume (up)on someone or something

to take unwelcome advantage of someone or something. I didn't mean to seem to presume upon you. I apologize. I did not feel that you presumed on me.

presume on. (n.d.) McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. (2002). Retrieved November 22 2016 from http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/presume+on


This situation is caused by a unilateral action/decision (without first consulting the second person) by the first person. It can also be said that the second person was kept in the dark.


unilateral ADJECTIVE

1 (of an action or decision) performed by or affecting only one person, group, or country involved in a situation, without the agreement of another or the others

‘It's a bit of a unilateral decision on my part, but I'm sure the director will be on my side.’

‘Workers on both the admin and examining side of the department were angry about this unilateral decision without consultation.’

in the dark PHRASE

In a state of ignorance:
‘the player is still in the dark about his future’

‘It was so much easier then for people in power to influence what we got to know and what we were kept in the dark about.’

‘She claimed the working group had been kept in the dark about much of the planning for the event.’


I'll try to summerize the discussion. According to @AndrewLeach's comment, "fait accompli" does focus on the inconsiderate behavior, and doesn't imply that the action is necessarily irreversible. So, I guess it's the closest in meaning to the original expression. However Merriam-Webster disagrees:

a thing accomplished and presumably irreversible

Another option is the more general expression "act overbearingly" as suggested by @Edwin Ashworth.

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