* Wilson's car had broken down on the side of the road. He tried calling his friends for assistance, but he was left hanging out to dry because they were too busy to answer their phones.
H-Letter Sayings |
Phrases and Idioms
KnowYourPhrase.com - Meanings and Origins of Phrases
Hang Out to Dry - The Meaning of the Phrase and its Origins
The origin of this phrase probably comes from how some people dry their clothes
after having washed them—they hang their clothes outside to dry.
Today, there are electric washers and dryers that make both washing and drying clothes
an easy chore to do. However, not everyone may be able to afford these expensive, yet
convenient machines. So instead, some people, after having washed their clothes, will hang their wet garments up outside on a line and let the sun do the work. This can be an effective way of drying one's clothes, and since an electric dryer is not involved, it can also save a person some money on their monthly electric bill.
Anyways, when did this expression begin to take on the 'to be abandoned' meaning? Well, the earliest I could find this phrase in writing where it's being likened to abandonment, is around the year 1980. For example, in a newspaper called Filmnews, 1980, there's a part that reads:
"They would be rather explicit, because they were quite angry because it was like being abandoned like
being hung out to dry."
Note: Sometimes, an idiom's origin is unknown. So when that happens, a theory might be listed as to how a phrase originated. Or, if not that, a quote will be generally be included on the idiom's page. These quotes are to give you an idea for at least how far back in history a phrase goes. So, for example, if a phrase is written in a newspaper from the year 1750, then you know it must be at least that old.
Anyways, thanks for dropping by. More and more common expressions are being added, so if you can't find one that you're searching for, maybe come back another time.
To be abandoned by someone.
Example: Andrew bought a new house, and his friend said he would come over later to help with the move. However, Andrew was left 'hung out to dry' because his friend never showed up to help.