If you recommended someone for something, for example, a job, as an adult obviously, they would be responsible of their own actions. However, unacceptable misbehavior or unacceptable incompetence would affect you (not legally but rather socially) because you recommended them.

Is there an idiom or idiomatic expression to express the part where you would be blamed or ashamed of actions of someone whom you recommended or probably praised?

There might be many but there is this Libyan idiomatic expression the literal translation of which goes: "it would be in your face". The meaning is unacceptable or embarrassing things they do, as a result, would disgrace/embarrass you.

The lose face came to mind but I guess there might or should be another one that is more apt or specific in this common situation.

A made up example:

No, he cannot do as he wishes. I am after all the one who brought him here; any stupid mistakes like that would be "in/on my face".


6 Answers 6


Any stupid mistakes like that would make me look bad:

make (someone) look bad
1. To do something stupid or embarrassing which makes the people who are associated with you (your boss, your classmates, your family members) ashamed:
Sit down and behave yourself! You're making us look bad.
(Phrase Mix)


An English idiom somewhat similar to your Libyan one is (to have) egg on your face, although it means "to be embarrassed by something" and isn't specific to being held responsible for someone else's actions. You would use it like

If I recommend him and he does badly, then that will be egg on my face.

Another, more general idiom is to say that something is on somebody, meaning that it is their responsibility or fault. You would use it like

I chose him, so if he does badly, then that's on me.

  • 2
    Thanks a lot stangdon. I would happily choose your great answer as the accepted one. It answers my question with examples and offers more, and more is good. I'll wait a bit longer as suggested by the site and because more is good :)
    – learner
    May 5, 2017 at 16:01
  • 2
    +1 In this particular context, I most often see this expression as verb + with egg on my face; so in your first example I would expect something more like If I recommend him and he does badly, I'll be left with egg on my face. The verb can vary (e.g. end up or wind up instead of be left), but something about this particular structure seems more idiomatic to me and also more suggestive of the egg being put there by someone else than the more neutral be egg on my face.
    – 1006a
    May 5, 2017 at 18:21
  • 1
    This answer is correct, however I would add the caveat that "egg on my face" is a metaphor and can sound a little goofy if used in the wrong context. It's not very common expression in modern English. "That's on me" is a more contemporary expression, and sounds more natural.
    – Andrew
    May 6, 2017 at 15:09
  • 1
    @Andrew You think it's not that common? Maybe not in absolute terms, but more so than it ever was in the past: tinyurl.com/4f6dtch7
    – stangdon
    May 6, 2017 at 15:16
  • 1
    @stangdon I did try to clearly say "common in modern English". I wouldn't use it, except perhaps in a humorous way to play off the metaphor. If OP is looking for an expression to use in conversation, I would suggest various other answers posted here, like "make me look bad", As you know there are all kinds of idioms which were common in the past but would sound really odd today, like saying someone has "moxie".
    – Andrew
    May 6, 2017 at 15:29

One expression is "reflect badly/poorly on ...".

His friend was fired after only a week on the job, which reflected poorly on his recommendation.


Stangdon mentioned "egg on my face" which is a good idiom to express the embarrassment you describe in the Libyan expression.

Some others that express the responsibility aspect are

"...neck on the line"

You can't just sit around all day. I talked the boss into giving you this job. If you mess it up, it's my neck on the line.

or "...on my head"

Don't worry. I know you don't think this is a good way to fix this coke machine, but I told everyone that it is my plan. If it fails, it will be on my head.

  • 1
    I like this about shame, On someone's head - Fig. [for something negative] belonging only to one person or group. • All the blame fell on their heads. • I don't think that all the criticism should be on my head. Source: McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. Thanks Adam also for the related responsibility idiom.
    – learner
    May 5, 2017 at 16:37

One could say:

  • Your actions reflect on me
  • I'm guilty by association
  • This includes me by extension

Sticking one's neck out: to take a risk

Putting one's neck on the line: to do something dangerous or something that you could suffer for

  • e.g. Rick in Casablanca: "I stick my neck out for NO ONE!" May 8, 2017 at 13:26

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .