Idiom of the Day – A Last-Ditch Effort
Friday, January 7, 2011 @ 11:01 AM
A final try at doing something; the last possible attempt.
Example Usage: I made one last-ditch effort to get her to stay but it was no use; We are making a last-ditch effort to finish our work in time for the deadline.
Did you know...? The expression 'a last-ditch effort' has its origins in military terminology. The 'last ditch' was, in military terms, the last line of defence.
The origin dates back to 1672. France and England attacked the Dutch Republic and occupied several provinces. The Duke of Buckingham, acting for King Charles II, told William of Orange, the young Dutch commander, that his country was lost. William’s reply was: “My lord, my country is indeed in danger, but there is one way never to see it lost, and that is to die in the last ditch.”
Marjorie Bowen in her essay “William III and the Revolution of 1688” writes: “This expression has passed into the English language, but reference is seldom made to its originator. . . . The reference is to the cutting of dykes , the desperate expedient whereby the higher levels of Holland had been saved by flooding the parts below sea level, thus ringing the Province with water as a defence. William meant that he would cut one dyke (ditch) after another and perish in the last.
Sources: “William III and the Revolution of 1688”
William of Orange: A Personal Portrait