in the face of all odds


Senior Member
I'm wonder if this expression (in the face of all odds) means in defiance of all. In this case, all things or all people?

The sentence is: "The amazing thing about Afghan women is their ability to hope in the face of all odds."
  • Majorbloodnock

    Senior Member
    British English
    Not quite defiance. If you're hoping for something, there is a chance it won't happen, so the likelihood of it occurring is expressed in "odds". Odds of 2 to 1, for instance, means something is twice as likely not to happen as it is to happen. Something with odds of 100 to 1 is very unlikely to happen indeed.

    The author is saying that whatever the odds, even at several thousand to one, the Afghan women are able to maintain a hope that a favourable outcome will occur.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    I would add that in the face of all odds sounds very odd to me. It sounds to me like a combination of two separate idioms:
    - against the odds, despite the odds, or (as the Major said) whatever the odds = despite the fact that this was or seemed unlikely to happen, and
    - in the face of opposition, competition, prejudice, hostility etc = despite the effect of these factors
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