Take one’s chances

Take one’s chances is an idiom that is hundreds of years old. 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 take one’s chances, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

Take one’s chances is an idiom that means to do something or take a risk with the conviction that one will accept whatever comes one’s way. Take one’s chances means that you are resigned to the outcome, whatever it may be. When someone takes his chances, he is hoping for a favorable outcome, but will accept whatever outcome occurs because he accepts the inherent risk. The expression take one’s chances is old–dating back to the 1300s. Related phrases are takes one’s chances, took one’s chances, taken one’s chances, taking one’s chances. The phrase take one’s chances has been enhanced in the last century with two newer phrases: you pays your money and you takes your chances, and you buy your ticket and you take your chances. Both of these phrase are related to sales patter common to carnival barkers.


“You’re going to have to take your chances where, at times, you’re going to have to hold up on some of those deep shots and understand what’s going on so that we can eliminate some of those shorter throws.” (Tennessean)

Take your chances during a haunted hayride and pay homage to the author and the season with a visit to the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, where Washington Irving is buried. (Texarkana Gazette)

As the saying goes, “you pays your money and you takes your chances” but if gold is to be your “thing,” I suggest you invest in shares in leading gold producers, such as Newcrest Mining or Evolution Mining. (Sydney Morning Herald)

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