Getting into a fight with someone, I think the other person is accusing me of being the wrong one and is trying to show that everything that has happened is my fault. Stop shooting the ball to my opponent is what I would say because it is what I would translate the idiom in my native language into. Does it make sense to native English speakers? What is the common English idiom in such situations?

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    That's not an English idiom, but, if you wanted to try it, I think you'd want to say, "stop passing the ball to my opponent," or, "stopping shooting the ball for my opponent."
    – J.R.
    Commented Dec 14, 2012 at 12:05
  • I've never heard of this expression and would have no idea of what it's supposed to mean. Commented Dec 14, 2012 at 12:13
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    Your description of the situation and the words of the metaphor don't match. 'Shooting the ball to my opponent' sounds like two people are on the same team together but one is accidentally helping out the other team. But your description makes it sound like the two of you arguing are already opponents. I don't see how the metaphor fits. Can you explain the situation further?
    – Mitch
    Commented Dec 14, 2012 at 13:01
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    @coleopterist: It basically means the one refuses to accept responsibility for their mistake. I think it refers to a kind of game where two players are playing against each other, like football and the person always passes the ball back to someone else instead of trying to score a goal. Hope it's clear now.
    – Gigili
    Commented Dec 14, 2012 at 13:03
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    I would exhort them to "man up": In order for Obama to win, women are going to have to man up and get the job done.
    – Robusto
    Commented Dec 14, 2012 at 13:26

8 Answers 8


Based on your explanation, an equivalent idiom in English would be (to) pass the buck:

To transfer responsibility or blame from oneself onto another; to absolve oneself of concern for a given matter by claiming to lack authority or jurisdiction.

The phrase also comes with its own Wikipedia page.


An English idiom for this is throw under the bus. It means to pass on the blame to someone else (can be friend or foe) who doesn't deserve it, usually out of malice or personal gain.

  • Actually, I would call this a hackneyed refrain, not a good English idiom. It is over-present in business jargon.
    – tchrist
    Commented Dec 16, 2012 at 9:01

At least as the question is explained by @MasterPJ, an expression with a similar meaning is "Whose side are you on?" (An emphatic "anyway" at the end is optional.) This does indeed imply that someone who owes you allegiance is being overly generous to the other guys.

"Whose Side Are You On" is a song of the American labor movement; the answer, of course, being the unions' and not the bosses'.


No, this idiom does not make sense to a speaker of English, and I did not understand it when you said it to me. The word you want is "shirk", although I wouldn't really call it an idiom. So you could have said "stop shirking your responsibility", or something like that. Or you could just have said "you need to accept some of the blame for what's happened".

References - MW and Oxford.

Note that the word "shirk" has another definition that is not mentioned in either of these two references. I believe that the other definition is almost entirely unknown to non-Muslims.

  • Thank you for your answer, what's the other definition of the word?
    – Gigili
    Commented Dec 16, 2012 at 10:55

We have a similar expression in English:

The ball is in your court.

We say this to mean, The responsibility lies with you now. We also say, I am putting the ball in your court, meaning, I am making this your responsibility. I suppose, by that reasoining, you could say, Stop putting the ball in your opponent's court. Take some responsibility!


Translation of sentence: "Stop shooting the ball to my opponent" in quite often used in Czech Language and as we can see from others, it is not understandable for English native speakers.

The meaning is (as Mitch commented): A friend/team-mate/colleague accusing you of helping his enemy/opponent/competitor to have an advantage over him.

(I am not a native speaker so I do not know the appropriate English equivalent, the closest I found is Fifth columnist, I hope this post will help to identify better one)


I would say that it doesn't. "Stop shooting yourself in the foot", is a possible English idiom for this type of situation.

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    Welcome to ELU :) I'd recommend explaining what your provided idiom does by quoting its definition from the Wiktionary page. Also, Gigili has elaborated on his question in the comments; you might want to tweak your answer accordingly. Commented Dec 14, 2012 at 13:24

Quit making things worse. Or quit adding fuel to the fire. Like quit arguing. Be the first to stop arguing. And deal with the problem. Nothing gonna be fixed by arguing back and forth.

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