last straw = last chance


Senior Member
Português [Brasil]
hi, I would like to know if 'last straw' could somehow mean 'last chance' ... like .. Ex: that was his very last straw [last chance ] of saving his son. :oops: :oops:
  • dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    No, it has a different meaning. It is not an opportunity.

    The "last straw" is the final problem or frustration that makes you decide to stop trying. You quit the job/marriage/club/situation because there have been too many problems. It isn't one problem: it is all of them combined. The "last straw" was the problem that made you decide to quit.

    You don't know that something is "the last straw" until after it happens. After all, I tolerated 45 problems before. But 46 is too many: I quit.


    Senior Member
    USA, English
    The origin of the phrase will help you understand it and remember its meaning
    A load of straw is placed on a camel's back. Adding straw after straw until the last straw amounted to the weight required to break the camels back.
    : 'The last straw' - the meaning and origin of this phrase

    The earliest citation that I can find is from The Edinburgh Advertiser, May 1816:

    "MR. BROUGHAM remarked, that if it [a tax on soap] were only 3d. a head, or 4d. and 5d. upon the lower orders, yet straw upon straw was laid till the last straw broke the camel's back."


    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    "Clutching at straws" is closer to "last chance". You might "clutch/grasp at one last straw".

    He was clutching at straws, willing to try even the most unlikely therapies, to save his son.
    < Previous | Next >