In Italian we have a sentence,

passare alla concorrenza

It means that someone who worked for company X starts working with company Y, who is a competitor of X (they sell the same goods for the same market). This sentence can also mean that, say, a TV host starts hosting shows on another TV channel, etc.

Can you help me find an English collocation with the same meaning, if any exists?


4 Answers 4


Let's say Bob first worked for Uber, but now he works for Lyft, their competitor.

Work for the competition seems clear to me in this context. Using Bob as the example,

I'm disappointed in Bob. I heard he's working for the competition now.

Here's just one example usage I found online:

Sleeping With The Enemy: Tech Employees Who Go To Work For The Competition

As for an idiom, how about jump ship?

jump ship
a) to leave an organization that you are working for, especially in order to join another
The best employees jumped ship at the first opportunity.

Using Bob as an example,

After all those recent scandals, Bob jumped ship and now he works for Lyft.

  • As far as I know it includes doing so suddenly. Mar 29, 2017 at 17:51
  • Not necessarily. You could it is often used in that way, but not always.
    – Em.
    Mar 29, 2017 at 21:45

There is an idiom that fits:

Now she's playing for the other side.

That is, she is playing for a rival or competitor.

  • 2
    A link to this idiom would help. Mar 29, 2017 at 11:33
  • Would help you do what? Don't you know how to use Google?
    – TimR
    Mar 29, 2017 at 15:19

This idiom is used where I live. This happened this year, where I work and someone went to work for the competition or the enemy.

He is now working for the enemy!

Some define enemy simply as not a friend.

Enemy (n.)

Look up enemy at Dictionary. comearly 13c., "one hateful toward and intent on harming (someone)," from Old French enemi (12c., Modern French ennemi), earlier inimi (9c.) "enemy, adversary, foe; demon, the Devil," from Latin inimicus "an enemy," literally "an unfriend," noun use of adjective meaning "hostile, unfriendly" (source also of Italian nemico, Catalan enamic, Spanish enemigo, Portuguese inimigo), from in- "not" (see in- (1)) + amicus "friend" related to amare "to love" . From c. 1300 in English as "adversary of God, unbeliever, heathen, anti-Christian;" late 14c. as "the Devil;" also late 14c. as "member of an armed, hostile body in a war, feud, etc.;" of the opposing military forces as a whole, from c. 1600. From mid-14c. as an adjective. - The Online Etymology Dictionary

Even Trump has used a similar phrase about the democrats (or if you wish the competitors) as seen in this article: Trump embraces ‘enemy of the people,’ a phrase with a fraught history.


"turncoat" might be the word you are looking for if you mention betrayal.

"Rat" might be the word if you prefer something rather informal and insulting for a person who changes loyalty.

"change sides" can also be what you are looking for.

  • 3
    I think the word "turncoat" is different as it means somebody whose "loyalty" is given to the other side. Hence, betrayal is involved. I don't think there would be outright 'betrayal' if a person works for a competitor (but there are 'ethical' issues). In the first place, companies usually do not allow that (until x year(s) lapsed). But I may be wrong, so let's just wait for other answers? (not my downvote, btw)
    – shin
    Mar 29, 2017 at 11:43
  • Companies can't just "not allow that." Many companies do have employees (and contractors) sign a non-compete contract, with typical terms ranging from a year to maybe five years, although five years is a long time to prohibit somebody from working in their career field and everything is negotiable, and depending on circumstances the non-compete may or may not be enforceable. Apr 2, 2017 at 16:56

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