Jargon Genesis: Thrown Under the Bus


For some weeks, I’ve wondered where “thrown under the bus,” and its variations originated. Unfortunately, my etymological research availed little. I like to think the phrase comes from a well-publicized event where someone gave in to their natural, Lord of the Flies inclinations and saved their own life by pushing someone else, likely a person close to them, under a moving bus. But alas, there is no evidence of such an event.

Read what the Word Detective thinks could be the origin of this phrase.

Despite our lack of clarity here, it is certainly proliferating all arenas of communication, including businesses. In fact, in my opinion, it has become among the most over-used phrases of the 2000’s. Don’t believe me? Check out this post from fourfour.

...according to Newsweek "William Safire, the author of Safire's Political Dictionary, traced the popularization of the phrase back to Cyndi Lauper, who jauntily tossed her critics 'under the bus' after the release of her debut album She's So Unusual in 1983." So that's why she says it so much! She's proud!

So next time you’re inclined to talk about being thrown under the bus, you  might vary it up a bit. Perhaps, “thrown off a subway?