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At the end of one’s rope or at the end of one’s tether

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  • At the end of one’s rope and at the end of one’s tether are two idioms that mean basically the same thing. An idiom is a figure of speech that is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. We will examine the meaning of the terms at the end of one’s rope and at the end of one’s tether, where they came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

    At the end of one’s rope means to be at the end of one’s strength, endurance or patience. The term at the end of one’s rope is primarily an American phrase, though it may be traced back to the 1680s. The idea is of someone who has been thrown a safety rope, and has run out of length.

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    At the end of one’s tether also means to be at the end of one’s strength, endurance or patience. The term at the end of one’s tether is primarily a British phrase, from the Old Swedish word tiuther. The idea is of an animal that has been tethered and left to graze, and runs out of length.

    Examples

    I recall I was about at the end of my rope as far as my eyesight and my use of iron sights were concerned when the commission changed the rule and said scopes were allowed. (The Rappahannock News)

    Set in 1945, in the small town of Bedford Falls, the story begins with George at the end of his rope. (The Torrington Register Citizen)

    Shropshire Councillor for Ludlow, Andy Boddington, who is also a member of the south Shropshire planning committee, said he is “at the end of his tether” after asking for the plans for two homes at Friars Walk to be brought to the planning committee three times. (The Shropshire Star)

    I’m sometimes exhausted and find myself at the end of my tether when my son won’t listen to me, which is fairly often. (The Guardian)

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