grasp at straws

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

This idiom refers to a drowning man grabbing any floating object, even a straw, to save himself. It was first used by Thomas More in Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation (1534).

Verb[edit]

grasp at straws

  1. (idiomatic) To guess randomly at or pursue any apparent option, due to a lack of clear choices or information.
    I've never met his mother, so I'm grasping at straws for an appropriate gift for her.

Derived terms[edit]

References[edit]

  • Titelman, Gregory Y., "The Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" (Random House, New York, 1996).