throw a bone to

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Alternative forms[edit]


An allusion to the act of throwing a bone as food to a hungry dog.


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throw a bone to (third-person singular simple present throws a bone to, present participle throwing a bone to, simple past threw a bone to, past participle thrown a bone to)

  1. (idiomatic) To provide support or assistance to, especially in one particular way or to a limited extent; to make a concession to.
    • 1875, Anthony Trollope, chapter 22, in The Way We Live Now, London: Chapman and Hall, []:
      There was considerable uneasiness in the bosoms of others of the Directors. [] [T]hey knew that Lord Alfred had sold shares, and had received the profit. [] And if there was so much cause to fear Lord Alfred that it was necessary to throw him a bone, why should not they also make themselves feared?
    • 1944 January 14, “ILWU Votes for FR Plan”, in Berkeley Daily Gazette[1], retrieved 11 July 2011, page 1:
      The union [] "regretted that the President thought it necessary to throw a bone to the anti-labor bloc" by saying the act would prevent strikes.
    • 1965 December 10, “U.S. Business: New Dam for the Dollar Drain”, in Time[2]:
      Throwing a bone to the banks, it will allow a 4% increase in overseas loans next year.
    • 1991 June 18, “Cowboys reward Wright with early starting position”, in Fort Worth Star-Telegram, retrieved 11 July 2011, page S1:
      The Dallas Cowboys yesterday gave a starting job to Alexander Wright, in effect throwing him a bone.
    • 1997, Mike Myers, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, spoken by Dr. Evil (Mike Myers):
      Can you remind me what I pay you people for? Honestly, throw me a bone here. What do we have?
    • 2006 June 16, Joseph Berger, “Acknowledging the Gay Part of Gay Marriage”, in The New York Times[3], ISSN 0362-4331:
      And he did it on the day the Senate threw a bone to President Bush's evangelical base by voting on a Constitutional amendment declaring that only a union of a man and a woman constitutes marriage.