give hostage to fortune

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English[edit]

Verb[edit]

give hostage to fortune

  1. (idiomatic) To take an action or make a statement that is risky because it could cause you trouble later.
    • He was very cautious with his words and gave no hostages to fortune.
    • 1612, Francis Bacon, Of Marriage and Single Life. Collected in Essayes: Religious Meditations. Places of Perswasion and Disswasion. Seene and Allowed, 2nd edition 1612.
      • He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune, for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief.
    • 1837, Francis Joseph Grund, The Americans, in Their Moral, Social and Political Relations, page 169, Marsh, Capen and Lyon
      • Thus, a married man will be sooner trusted than one who is single ; because “he has given hostage to fortune,” and possesses what Bacon calls “an impediment to mischief.”
    • 1982 July 1, Mr. M. O’Leary, Dáil Éireann, volume 337, Houses of the Oireachtas, Ireland [1]
      • As I say, there are no answers to date on these serious issues.... It is understandable in human terms that a Government would wish to survive, to do better things perhaps, but so far this House has been left in total ignorance of the policy package to be offered by this Government and their day-to-day operation on which this vote of no confidence is based, on their mishandling of the economy. We can give no hostage to fortune. On their work so far they do not deserve a vote of confidence here today.
    • 2001 November 13, John O'Donoghue, Dáil Éireann, volume 543, Houses of the Oireachtas, Ireland [2]
      • I hope the other report will be completed at a very early date, but to put a timescale on it would be to give hostage to fortune and I am not prepared to do that.