Go for Broke – Meaning & Origin

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

The common phrase go for broke means to put it all on the line and risk everything you can in order to achieve something. But how does go for broke connect with that concept? I’ll explain where this phrase derived from and show you how to use it correctly, so keep reading!

Go for Broke Meaning Explained

Go for Broke – Meaning Origin

Going for broke isn’t about filing for bankruptcy, although that’s exactly what it sounds like. No, it’s about staking everything on a single, high-risk effort to reach your goals. It’s that heart-pounding, all-or-nothing moment where you throw caution to the wind and give it everything you’ve got. Just imagine you’re on a game show and decide to bet all your earnings on the final question—that’s going for broke!

I’m not much of a risk-taker, but one instance where I went for broke was when my husband and I invested in our first fixer-upper. It was a huge risk; we put every dollar we had into it. But the payoff was worth it all because we flipped it and used that project to further our lives.

Different Tenses to Use

Go for broke can be adapted to numerous tenses to fit your needs.

  • Go for broke (base form): I decided to go for broke and ask my boss for a promotion.
  • Going for broke (present participle): She’s going for broke in the final round of the poker tournament.
  • Gone for broke (past participle): He’d gone for broke and invested every cent of his savings in the business.
  • Goes for broke (third person present tense): My sister always goes for broke when she plays poker.

Go for Broke Origin and Etymology

Go for Broke Ngram
Go for broke usage trend.

The expression go for broke comes to us from the game of craps, where a player would bet everything on one roll of the dice. It became popularized during WWII by the 442nd Infantry of the United States Army, made up mainly of Japanese–American soldiers, who used go for broke as their official motto.

Synonyms to Use Instead of Go for Broke

If go for broke isn’t quite your style, there are some alternatives to check out:

  • Bet the farm
  • Stake everything
  • Gamble it all
  • Risk it all
  • All in
  • Put all your eggs in one basket
  • Shoot the works

Go for Broke Examples in a Sentence

Go for Broke – Meaning Origin 1

  • In the final round of the poker game, Adam decided to go for broke and bet all his chips.
  • We’re going for broke on this new marketing strategy, so I hope it works.
  • If you’re not careful with this, you could end up going for broke on a bad investment.
  • Anna always goes for broke when it comes to her questionable fashion choices.
  • During the game’s final play, my son’s football team went for broke and scored the winning touchdown.
  • With nothing to lose, Jared went for broke and proposed to Mary.
  • In the last quiz round, we decided to go for broke and wager all our points.
  • She had gone for broke in her pursuit of an acting career and finally landed a significant role when she thought all hope was lost.
  • My friend is always going for broke, and it’s exciting to see what he’ll do next.

Betting It All on Idioms

So, that’s the lowdown on the phrase go for broke. If you ever need to express your daring decision to risk it all, remember this phrase. Even though it’s fun to use in conversation or writing, you might want to think twice before actually going for broke in real life!