Fall on your sword


      • Taking responsibility for a mistake or failure
        To admit to a wrongdoing or error and accept the consequences, often in a dramatic or symbolic manner

      • Sacrifice oneself for the greater good
        To make a personal sacrifice for the benefit of others, often in a heroic or selfless manner

    Examples of Fall on your sword

    • The CEO knew that his actions had led to a scandal that could ruin the company's reputation, so he made the decision to fall on his sword and resign from his position.

      In this context, "fall on your sword" is a metaphor for accepting blame and voluntarily leaving a position or role in order to take responsibility for one's mistakes. In a more literal sense, the phrase "fall on your sword" refers to an ancient Roman custom in which a person would offer their sword to their enemy as a sign of surrender or as an act of self-sacrifice. This phrase has evolved over time to represent any situation in which a person takes responsibility for their actions, sometimes at great personal cost or sacrifice.

    • The CEO apologized for the company's mistakes and offered to "fall on his sword" as a sign of taking responsibility.

      This idiom, "fall on your sword", is a metaphorical expression that means to take the blame or responsibility for a mistake, even if it results in one's own downfall. In this example, the CEO is prepared to accept full responsibility for the company's errors and is willing to suffer the consequences, just as a medieval knight would have thrown away his sword as a symbol of surrendering or taking full blame for failure in battle. This expression is commonly used when someone wants to prove their integrity, courage, and honesty, and to showcase their dedication to making things right, despite the negative impact on their own reputation or career.


    The idiom "fall on your sword" has two main meanings. The first one is to take responsibility for a mistake or failure, and the second is to sacrifice oneself for the greater good. Both meanings involve a sense of self-sacrifice and accepting consequences.

    In the first meaning, "fall on your sword" is often used when someone has made a mistake or failed at a task and must face the consequences. This can be a literal or figurative sword, symbolizing the idea of taking responsibility and facing punishment. The phrase is often used in a dramatic or exaggerated way, suggesting that the person is bravely owning up to their mistake.

    The second meaning of "fall on your sword" is more literal, referring to sacrificing oneself for the benefit of others. This can be seen in historical contexts, such as soldiers literally falling on their swords to avoid capture or dishonor. In modern usage, it can refer to making a personal sacrifice for the greater good, such as giving up a job or opportunity for someone else's benefit.

    Origin of "Fall on your sword"

    The origin of this idiom comes from ancient Roman times, specifically during the reign of the Emperor Nero. According to historical accounts, Nero ordered one of his generals, Gaius Piso, to commit suicide as punishment for his involvement in a failed conspiracy against the emperor. Piso fell on his sword and died as a result.

    This event became a popular story in Roman culture, and the phrase "fall on your sword" came to represent taking responsibility for one's actions and accepting the consequences. Over time, the idiom evolved to also include the idea of self-sacrifice for the greater good.

    Today, "fall on your sword" is still used in both literal and figurative contexts, and its origins in ancient Rome are still referenced. It is a powerful and dramatic idiom that conveys a sense of bravery, responsibility, and sacrifice.