Last Resort

Meaning of Idiom ‘Last Resort’

The last resort is a final action or effort to achieve something when everything else fails; a coarse of action to be taken only when nothing else succeeds; a final hope. 1Spears, Richard A. McGraw-Hill’s American Idioms Dictionary. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2008.,2Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

Usage

A last resort is something you would normally not choose, one to be chosen only when you have no other choice. Usually, the connotation is that one faces a certain problem or difficulty and there is only one final attempt to be made.

Example Of Use

“Why don’t you hire cousin Elvin to paint your house?” asked Ella. “Only as a last resort,” said Alex. “He’s too messy and leaves a mess behind.”

“Hugh couldn’t get a ride and there were no buses so as a last resort he called a taxi to pick him up.”

“If this treatment doesn’t work,” said the doctor, “there is one last resort. It will almost certainly succeed but the side effects can be quite severe.”

Origin

Used since the 1600s.

The English word resort comes from the late Middle English, meaning something one can turn to for assistance or relief. The last resort originally described a court with no means to appeal. 3Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

Compare last ditch effort.

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Sources   [ + ]

1. Spears, Richard A. McGraw-Hill’s American Idioms Dictionary. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2008.
2, 3. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.