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sell sb/sth short

British pronunciation/sˈɛl ˌɛsbˈiː slˈaʃ ˌɛstˌiːˈeɪtʃ ʃˈɔːt/
American pronunciation/sˈɛl ˌɛsbˈiː slˈæʃ ˌɛstˌiːˈeɪtʃ ʃˈɔːɹt/
to sell sb/sth short

to not appreciate or value a person or thing as one should

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What is the origin of the idiom "sell someone or something short" and when to use it?

The origin of the idiom "sell someone or something short" is closely tied to financial and trading terminology. In stock trading and financial markets, the term "short selling" refers to a practice where an investor sells an asset (like a stock) that they do not currently own, hoping to buy it back at a lower price in the future. This practice involves betting that the asset's value will decrease. It often arises in discussions involving judgments, assessments, or decisions where it is important to acknowledge and appreciate the full extent of someone's capabilities or the true value of something.

1It's a prestigious position, and yet it still sells him short.
2Deion also thought Jackson's quieter persona, even in those Nike commercials, sold him short.
3He won NL MVP 3 times, finished 2nd another 4 times, and helped lead them to a world championship 5 years ago, so even calling him a superstar might still sell him short, but the two sides couldn't work something out, and it created a dark cloud over their season as it seemed likely to be his swan song in St. Louis.
4Blake: I don't want to sell Caroline short on this one because she's 16 years old, and that song was a mouthful for anybody, so I'm gonna cast my vote for Caroline on this one.
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