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Come hell or high water

  • Come hell or high water is an idiom with a fuzzy origin. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common phrase come hell or high water, where it probably came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.



     

    Come hell or high water is an idiom that means one will complete a task or achieve success no matter what, that one will overcome any difficulty that may arise in order to achieve a goal. The declaration is one of determination. The expression come hell or high water is first seen in print in the 1870s; however, the phrase seems to have already been in popular use before that time. In any case, the phrase come hell or high water seems to have originated in the United States, a country filled with pioneers who had to deal with any number of obstacles to carve homes out of the frontier.

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    Examples

    And though she hasn’t had much luck with her romantic or business ventures so far, with such grit, we’re sure she will succeed one day, come hell or high water. (Mumbai Mirror)

    “What I’ve learned, after listening to hours of conversations with so many incredible humans is this: music is a force of energy, and come hell or high water, it will sustain,” says Deike. (Billboard Magazine)

    “I was so angry that something like this could happen in America that I decided I was going to get involved, come hell or high water.” (The Florida Phoenix)


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