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Uphill battle

  • Uphill battle is an idiom that is several hundred years old. 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 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, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as in a blue moon, 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, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the idiom uphill battle, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.


     

    Uphill battle is an idiom that means a difficult undertaking, a struggle, a tremendous task, a challenge with many obstacles. One is often said to face an uphill battle or to be fighting an uphill battle as a way of saying that one is tackling difficulties. The expression uphill battle is most probably derived from the physical task of fighting a battle up a hill, which is a difficult battle to win. The phrase uphill battle to mean a difficult undertaking came into use in the early 1800s, and may have come from the War of 1812, the Napoleonic Wars, or any number of altercations taking place at this time.

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    Examples

    The member states of the European Union face an uphill battle to reach agreement on a common budget and recovery fund this weekend in the first physical meeting of national leaders since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. (The Irish Times)

    Whoever wins the U.S. Senate Democratic primary runoff — a race between Air Force veteran MJ Hegar and and Dallas state Sen. Royce West — will face an uphill battle against U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who will have a huge financial advantage in a traditionally red state. (The Texas Tribune)

    But if your manager expects you to be be available well into the evening, you’re fighting an uphill battle when it comes to trying to put good sleep hygiene practices into place – such as a regular bedtime and suitable numbers of hours asleep. (Happiful Magazine)


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