Idioms

Learn idioms with comprehensive meaning, examples and origin details.

Idioms

a drowning man will clutch at a straw

a drowning man clutch at a straw

Meaning

  • It refers to the desperate measures that someone in need may make in order to come out of the situation.
  • Often refers to a dire situation where even if the hope is flimsy, a person may opt for it.

Example Sentences

  1. Although there was no possibility of success he tried his hand at this interview to get a job because a downing man will even clutch at a straw.
  2. She seems to be in terrible pain but the doctor has confirmed more pain for a few weeks after the surgery. She is still going to get the surgery done because a drowning man will clutch at straws, she just wants the pain to end someday.

Origin
The origin of this phrase dates back to 1382 when John Wycliffe translated the Bible in the English language. The phrase has changed from clutch to catch to grasp ever since. The use of the word straw in this phrase refers to the unlikelihood of finding success at using it because of its flimsy nature. But the point is to demonstrate that even a flimsy option is worth taking or sometimes just taken as a desperate measure.

Synonym

Grasp at straw instead of clutching is more popular in the United States.

‘Don’t give/care a straw’ is used as a sign of indifference and a ‘man of straw’ was a frail enemy. Other phrases with straw is to ‘condemn someone to straw’ meant to say that they should be taken to a mad house.

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