forlorn hope

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From forlorn + hope, in part-translation of Dutch verloren hoop ‘lost troop’.



forlorn hope (plural forlorn hopes)

  1. (military) A small troop picked to make an advance attack, or the first attack; a storming party.
    • 1880, Isaac Newton Arnold, Life of Benedict Arnold, page 82:
      Arnold, therefore, as usual with him, led the forlorn hope, marching about one hundred yards before the main body.
    • 1885, George Bruce Malleson, The Decisive Battles of India, page 323:
      Lieutenant Templeton of the 76th offered to lead the forlorn hope.
  2. Any dangerous or hopeless venture.
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