Point of no return

Photo of author


The point of no return is an idiom that has a fairly recent origin. We will examine the definition of the term point of no return, where the phrase comes from and some examples of its use in sentences.

The point of no return is the moment in time or the critical juncture in an activity or progression when it makes more sense to finish rather than to turn back. The point of no return is the moment when a decision is irreversible. The idiom has its origins in World War II when the point of no return described the point in a flight when the airplane had consumed so much fuel that it didn’t have enough to return to the point from where it had departed, it was committed to continuing on to its endpoint. Another term for point of no return is the Radius of Action formula. The first use of the phrase point of no return in an idiomatic way occurred in the novel Point of No Return published by John P. Marquand in 1947. A Broadway play followed in 1951, aiding the spread of the idiom into general use.


The Obama White House-Bibi relationship is obviously deteriorating to the point of no return. It is more poisonous than US-Israeli relationship in my lifetime,” he added. (The Washington Examiner)

“There can be no going back. The point of no return was passed on June 23,” he said. (The Sun)

THE point of no return to salvage the 2016 academic year has been reached, CPUT acting vice-chancellor Louis Fourie said yesterday as the institution decided to cancel face-to-face classes in light of continued student protests at its campuses. (The Independent)