Sunday, November 24, 2013

Idiomwatch: "[That's] on you"

Example: "Nobody ever got fired for buying Microsoft Office. If it has problems, you as the IT Executive aren't held personally responsible. But if you take a chance on some small shop or open source thing, and it doesn't work out--that's on you."

Definition: an act or decision for which, if things go badly, you are going to be "held accountable" (another over-used phrase). I.e., you will be roundly blamed for the action and its outcome, and you will be viewed as a weasel if you don't accept full responsibility (because, after all, it "on" you).

Like "on line", I suspect this of being a British-ism that has crossed the ocean. Unlike "on line", which seems a case of variety for variety's sake only, I find it unobjectionable. It provides a very compact formulation, that seems to have a usefully different connotation than the conventional "that's your fault".

The closest variant that comes to my mind is "that's your doing". Difference: "that's your doing" seems to be used more for small-bore, personal actions. "That's on you" for actions that have a widespread, public effect.

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