Strapped for Cash

Also: Strapped for money, or just strapped.


To be strapped for cash means to not have any money available. This idiom has a similar meaning to brokehard upshort on money, and down to one’s last cent.


There are many English idioms which mean out of money and the way they are used depends on the circumstances. Being strapped for cash is not used to necessarily indicate you are destitute. It usually means that you are temporarily out of funds or that you do not have much money available so must use your funds wisely. Although the similar expression broke can sometimes mean being completely out of money or bankrupt, this and other such expression are usually used in a more casual sense to indicate limited funds.

Examples Of Use

Used as an adjective:

“Sorry, I can’t go out tonight. I’m strapped for cash.”

“Strapped for cash college students often subsist on Ramen noodles and microwave burritos.”

“The school needs new computers, but they are strapped for cash”

“Being a single mother is though. You often live paycheck to paycheck—constantly strapped for money.”

Strapped for cash idiom meaning


The idiom strapped for cash has been used since at least the early 1900’s, but its origin is not precisely known. A strap is a strip of leather, cloth, or any flexible material that can be used for securing or fastening things together or to hold onto something. Strap is also a verb meaning to bind with a strap. How being low on funds can be similar to being ‘strapped,’ then, is hard to fathom.

However, some etymologists suggest that the word strap is a corruption of a rural term which comes from milking cows, strip, meaning to draw out the very last drop of milk from the cow. Therefore, strapped for cash could have meant stripped of cash.

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