On Your (or One’s) Last Legs

Meaning of the Idiom ‘On Your Last Legs’

To be on your last legs be nearing the end of your strength or usefulness. This idiom usually refers to people, but can also refer to machinery, etc. It may sometimes refer to inanimate objects such as items of clothing.

In regards to people, the expression usually means to be so exhausted, old, or ill that one is near to collapsing.

Examples Of Use

“By the time Cranston made it to the summit, he was on his last legs.”

“I’m going to have to buy a new car. My old one is on its last legs.”

“There were only two miles to go in the marathon, but I was on my last legs. I didn’t think I would make it to the finish line.”

Origin

In use since at least the 1800’s, the idiom most likely derived from horses or beasts of burden, which, when overworked or too old, may still be able to stand and move around but can no longer perform work or carry a rider.

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