Clutching at straws


      • Desperation or hopelessness
        Trying to find a solution or hope in a desperate situation, even though the chances of success are slim and the efforts may seem futile

      • Grasping at small or insignificant things
        Attempting to find something to hold onto or gain control over, even if it is of little value or impact

      • Reaching for unrealistic or unattainable options
        Struggling to find a way out of a difficult or impossible situation by choosing unrealistic or unattainable options as a last resort

    Examples of Clutching at straws

    • After failing his exams, John started studying for them again, but his friends thought he was just clutching at straws.

      Clutching at straws is a phrase that means trying to find hope or a solution in situations where there is little or no chance of success. In this example, John's friends thought he was wasting his time studying again because they believed that he had already failed and there was no point in trying to improve his grades.


    The idiom "clutching at straws" is often used to describe a desperate or hopeless situation where someone is grasping at anything, no matter how small or insignificant, in an attempt to find a solution or hope. It can also refer to reaching for unrealistic or unattainable options as a last resort. This idiom conveys a sense of futility and a lack of control over a difficult situation, as well as a feeling of desperation and a willingness to try anything.

    Origin of "Clutching at straws"

    The origin of this idiom can be traced back to the 16th century, when "straws" were used to refer to insignificant or worthless things. The phrase "grasping at straws" was first recorded in a book called "A Hand-book of Proverbs" in 1670, and it was used to describe someone who was trying to save themselves from drowning by clutching at floating straws. This literal meaning evolved into a figurative one, where "clutching at straws" came to signify a desperate attempt to find a solution or hope in a seemingly hopeless situation.

    In modern times, this idiom is commonly used in both spoken and written English, and it has become a popular expression to describe a sense of desperation and a lack of control over a situation. It is often used in a negative context, conveying a sense of futility and a last-ditch effort to find a solution. Overall, the idiom "clutching at straws" continues to be a powerful and widely used expression to describe a situation of desperation and hopelessness.