Last resort

Last resort is an idiom that has been in use for hundreds of years. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery, 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 have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions that native speakers understand such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, chin up, eye to eye, barking up the wrong tree, hit the nail on the head, kick the bucket, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. 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. We will examine the meaning of the idiom last resort, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

A last resort is a solution or recourse that one turns to when all other avenues to resolve a problem fail. A last resort is an answer or solution that one turns to reluctantly. The idiom last resort comes from the French, en dernier ressort, which means last resort and originally referred to a court from which there could be no appeal–the decision was final. The term last resort has been in use in the English language since the 1600s.


TAIPA, the state’s auto insurer of last resort, on Sept. 11, 2019, filed a request for a 4.9% increase in private passenger automobile rates and a 4.8% increase in commercial automobile rates, TDI said. (The Insurance Journal)

“If the absenteeism does not improve, then as the last resort within the district, the family is referred to (School Attendance Review Board) and ultimately placed on a SARB (attendance) contract.” (The Merced Sun-Star)

‘This is our last resort’: 48,000 General Motors workers to go on nationwide strike for first time in 12 years (The South China Morning Post)

THE Scottish Government has put plans in place to run the railways as an “operator of last resort” if ScotRail’s performance fails to improve, the Transport Secretary has confirmed. (The National)

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