Weakest link

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Weakest link is a term that has its origins in a well-known proverb. We will examine the meaning of the term weakest link, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

The weakest link is the person or point in a process that is the most vulnerable, laziest, most incompetent or least dependable. The term weakest link came from the proverb, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. In other words, one substandard link may cause a chain to break, even though the other, stronger links may hold when put under pressure. This proverb may be traced to the work Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man, published by Thomas Reid in 1786: “In every chain of reasoning, the evidence of the last conclusion can be no greater than that of the weakest link of the chain, whatever may be the strength of the rest.” It is safe to assume that the proverb was in general use long before it was published.


The second-generation Turkish adults expressed a stronger association between meat and masculinity, while the second-generation Dutch group held the weakest link between ideas of meat as masculine. (The Journal Gazette)

A fresh batch of China’s smaller regional lenders are poised for initial public offerings (IPOs) on the A-share stock market this year, but their aggressive style in expanding capital levels is making them arguably the weakest link in the country’s financial system, according to analysts. (The South China Morning Post)

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has acknowledged foreign agents may be trying to gather compromising material on individual Australian politicians through cyber attacks, while a Labor MP has said parliamentarians themselves are the “weakest link”. (The Sydney Morning Herald)

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