Full-court press

Full-court press is an idiom that originated in the United States. 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 full-court press, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

A full-court press is a robust attempt to do something; it is an all-out attack or offensive. The expression full-court press involves unrelenting effort and using all one’s resources to achieve a goal. The full-court press is a type of strategy used in American basketball. Usually, the team on the defensive allows the team that controls the ball to get half-court before engaging; in a full-court press, the defensive team applies pressure to the team controlling the ball for the entire length of the court. Basketball coach John McLendon invented the tactic in the 1950s, and the term became an idiom in the 1970s. Note that full-court is hyphenated in the phrase full-court press.

Examples

Defense Minister Benny Gantz will follow Barnea as part of a full-court press heading to the US on Thursday. (Jerusalem Post)

All signs now point to a full-court press by the GOP to rig state election rules in a bid to stay in power permanently. (Jacobin)

“They’ll stick to charges in the opening, then in closing they can go full throttle and give a full-court press,” he said. (New York Post)

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