Last Resort (in the/as a)

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Meaning of Idiom 'As a Last Resort'

When something is the last resort, it is the final thing to try after everything else has failed. When something is done to solve a problem as a last resort it means much the same thing as a last ditch effort although the latter suggests a greater sense of desperation.

After this final effort, there are no other solutions to try.

"In the last resort" is sometimes used to mean ultimately or something similar to "in any case." When used this way, it is weak and meaningless.

Usage

Last resort can be used as a noun, as in "this is the last resort." It is often used in the phrase as a last resort or in the last resort.

Examples:

"Selling my car was the last resort to come up with a down payment. Luckily, I didn't' have to go that far."

"If we don't fix this soon, we'll be out of business. As a last resort, I suppose we could file bankruptcy."

Origin

Last resort derives from a legal term used to describe the last court in which an appeal can be heard, after which there are no higher courts. In other words, it describes the supreme court or equivalent (supreme courts may go by different names, such as "court of appeals" in a state). After a case is heard in a 'court of last resort' there are no further legal appeals. Used since the early 1800's or earlier.

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