The straw that broke the camel’s back and the last straw are two idioms that stem from the same proverb. An idiom is a figure of speech that is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. A proverb is a short, common saying or phrase that gives advice or shares a universal truth. We will examine the meaning of the expressions the straw that broke the camel’s back and the last straw, where they came from and some examples of their use in sentences.
The straw that broke the camel’s back refers to something seemingly minor or trivial, that when added to a situation full of accumulating difficulties, causes an extreme reaction or failure. The idea is one of piling an extreme burden on a camel, until the weight of one, final piece of straw becomes the tipping point that causes the camel to collapse. References to the proverb of the straw that broke the camel’s back may be found at the turn of the nineteenth century. Prior to this time, the idea was found in a proverb that referred to a feather that broke the horse’s back.
The last straw is an idiom that may be considered a sort of shorthand for the proverb the straw that broke the camel’s back.
He was told he would not be allowed to drive after his stroke and his son told the inquest at Reading Town Hall on November 9 that this was ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’. (The Reading Chronicle)
“The biggest problem is the lack of parking, the second thing is that people don’t want to pay to park, and the third thing is that fines are really the final straw that broke the camel’s back,” Campbell said. (The New Zealand Herald)
“When we converted two closets to make an office space for one of our managers, it was the last straw highlighting that we have outlived our time at Main Street” Pirro said in a statement.(The Buffalo News)