not have a leg to stand on

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English[edit]

Verb[edit]

not have a leg to stand on

  1. (idiomatic) To lack support, as in an argument, debate, or negotiation.
    • 1857, Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit, ch. 8:
      "You see?" said Mrs Gowan, . . . representing to him that he had better confess, for he had not a leg to stand on.
    • 1910, Edith Wharton, "Afterward":
      "But Mr. Elwell's lawyers apparently did not take your view, since I suppose the suit was withdrawn by their advice."
      "Oh, yes, they knew he hadn't a leg to stand on."
    • 2003 Oct. 3, Charlie LeDuff and Dean E. Murphy, The California Recall: Sexual Accusations Prompt an Apology By Schwarzenegger," New York Times (retrieved 18 June 2014):
      "If his word and image are consistently proven to be false, he doesn't have a leg to stand on."

Usage notes[edit]

  • Almost always used in the negative, although rare affirmative usages can found, as in:
  • 1910, Gilbert Keith Chesterton, What's Wrong With The World, ch. 17:
    It is only with great difficulty that a modem scientific sociologist can be got to see that any old method has a leg to stand on.
  • 1998 Dec. 7, Jane Gross, Suit Says Employer's Refusal to Pay Is Form of Bias," New York Times (retrieved 18 June 2014):
    "Now we have a leg to stand on," said Mark G. Sokoloff, one of Ms. Saks' lawyers.