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Foregone conclusion

  • Foregone conclusion is an idiom that has been in use for hundreds of years. 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 idiom foregone conclusion, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

     

    A foregone conclusion is a result that is inevitable because it has been decided even before all the evidence or facts have been studied. A foregone conclusion is one that occurs no matter what; the term is often used in situations that are unfair and so have no hope of working out in any other way, or situations that have only one, obvious outcome. The expression foregone conclusion came into use in the 1600s; it is seen in William Shakespeare’s play, Othello, published in 1604: “But this denoted a foregone conclusion: ‘Tis a shrewd doubt, though it be but a dream.”

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    Examples

    They trail the Sox by 10 12 games, and the title going to the South Side has been a foregone conclusion for weeks. (Chicago Sun-Times)

    But Justice Michael H. Wojcik, in a dissenting opinion, said that once the court determines that the city of Chester controls the assets, “the city’s ability to dissolve the authority and sell the assets is a foregone conclusion.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)

    Sestero’s involvement in the film was far from a foregone conclusion: The up-and-coming actor signed on to work in a behind-the-scenes capacity. (Columbus Dispatch)


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