From the lyrics of Ma Baker:

Freeze I'm ma Baker
Put your hands in the air and give me all your money
This is the story of ma Baker the meanest cat from old Chicago town
She was the meanest cat
In old Chicago town
She was the meanest cat
She really mowed them down
She had no heart at all
No no no heart at all
She was the meanest cat
For she was really tough
She left her husband flat
He wasn't tough enough
She took her boys along
Cause they were mean and strong

When saying she left her husband flat, does this mean that she left her husband's apartment or does it mean she actually flattened her husband like the people she mowed down at the bank?

  • 1
    "flat" in idioms of The Free Dictionary. Three uses. idioms.thefreedictionary.com/leave+flat
    – rogermue
    Dec 26, 2015 at 6:36
  • If you think about it, you've already ruled out the meaning of flat = apartment, because then it would say, She left her husband's flat.
    – J.R.
    Dec 26, 2015 at 9:20

3 Answers 3


"Leave flat" is an expression which means either

To take a person's complete assets and walk away, leaving him with nothing.


ditching somebody all of a sudden and walking away.

Since ma Baker is a ruthless woman who steals money, she could do both to her husband. So either meanings are valid. I personally feel it is the latter.

Check out the usage of this term here.


She left her husband flat

The phrase here is flat on his back (i.e. Knocked Out).

Imagine a tree falling. The inference is that she punched him so hard he fell flat on his back (unconscious) and while he was out cold she packed her things, took the kids and left.

  • 1
    It's possible it means this, but I think the normal idiomatic meanings (linked to by @VarunKN) make sense. Ultimately we can't say for sure. The writer was probably just looking for a phrase that rhymed with cat. ;)
    – GoDucks
    Dec 26, 2015 at 5:07

When we were children ...a friend would leave us "FLAT" or even "FLAT LEAVE"...if they chose to leave (without notice) our play date activity to run off and play with a "cooler" friend. BUT of course I have heard the term "FLAT BROKE" so that makes sense in this context too as I read it.

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