when the chips are down

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From the game of poker.

Pronunciation[edit]

  • (file)

Phrase[edit]

when the chips are down

  1. (idiomatic) When the pressure is on; when the situation is urgent or critical
    He wasn't a very talented musician but, when the chips were down, he played well.
    When the chips are down, you need to make tough decisions.

See also[edit]