On the block

put or go on the block. Offer for sale, as in These paintings will all be put on the block. This usage alludes to the auction block, the platform from which the auctioneer sells, so called since the mid-1800s.
put one’s head on the block. Take a great risk, make oneself vulnerable, as in I’m not going to put my head on the block just to save her reputation. This usage alludes to the executioner’s block, on which victims are beheaded, so called since the mid-1500s.


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    adverb phrase In a precarious position: That could place guard Conner Henry on the bubble [1980s+; because the bubble might burst]

  • On the chance that

    On the possibility that, as in I came early on the chance that we might have time to chat. This phrase uses chance in the sense of “a possibility or probability for some event,” a usage dating from the late 1700s. It is sometimes put as on the off chance, meaning “on the slight but […]

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