Grasping At Straws


Clutching at straws
Grabbing at straws

Meaning of Idiom ‘Grasping at Straws’

To be grasping at straws means to be willing to do, say, or believe anything that offers even the slightest hope in a desperate situation, even though there is almost no chance for success.

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“Arthur was going to be laid off from work, but when they called him in he immediately brought up the fact that he had never taken a sick day in five years. He knew he was just grasping at straws.”

“I was failing as an artist. I had yet to sell a painting. Clutching at straws, I decided to have a sidewalk sale. To my amazement, I sold almost all of my paintings!”

The candidate was losing the debate badly. He kept grasping at straws, bringing up any little thing he thought might discredit his opponent.”


The idiom ‘grasping at straws’ comes from an old proverb “A drowning man will clutch at straws,” meaning that a drowning man will grab at anything around to try to save himself, even a floating straw. It was first used in 1534 by Thomas More in Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation and has been used figuratively, in different forms, since the mid-1500’s.

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