When push comes to shove

  • When push comes to shove is an American idiom that describes that critical time when a decision must be made, when a commitment must be made, when action must be taken to back up words. The phrase when push comes to shove carries the connotation of escalation, a push being milder than a shove. There is some discussion as to where the phrase when push comes to shove has come from, currently it is believed to have originated in black American English during the late 1800s. There is little doubt that when push comes to shove was used in spoken English long before it was popularized in written English, starting some time in the 1950s. A related phrase is if push comes to shove.


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    When push comes to shove the Donald is a master of pulling the trigger. (The Huffington POst)

    “He is a midfielder, but when push comes to shove, you have to do some moving and shaking,” Roth said. (The Mount Airy News)

    “When push comes to shove, I won’t be afraid to discipline someone if they are not adhering to the standard we expect,” she told Australian media. (The National POst)

    “‘Why can’t you be partisan, be tough minded, but when push comes to shove, make a deal rather than rejecting everything as corrupt?'” (The Christian Science Monitor)

    “We agreed that if push comes to shove, the MB will not step down but will seek an audience with the Sultan to dissolve the state assembly.” (The Star)

    China’s giant Alibaba e-commerce site, headed by billionaire Jack Ma, is also an investor in both Lyft and Didi — and may very well come down on Didi’s side if push comes to shove, sources said. (The New York Post)


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