slender reed

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slender reed (plural slender reeds)

  1. (idiomatic) A person, fact, or resource on which one can rely only to a limited extent.
    • 1888, G. A. Henty, chapter 12, in In The Reign Of Terror:
      "It was perfectly natural for you to think that a lad of eighteen was a slender reed to lean on in the time of trouble and danger."
    • 1908, E. Phillips Oppenheim, chapter 35, in The Great Secret:
      "It is a slender reed," Gilbert said, "for so mighty an issue to rest upon."
    • 2009 September 28, Jeremy Warner, “Governments can survive recessions, but not in this case”, in Telegraph, UK, retrieved 17 August 2015:
      Yet these precedents offer no more than a slender reed for Gordon Brown, almost hopelessly down in the polls, to cling to.
    • 2013 September 23, Lizette Alvarez, “Rubio Withdraws Support for Gay Black Judge’s Nomination to the Federal Bench”, in New York Times, retrieved 17 August 2015:
      The nomination of a gay black Miami judge to the federal bench will not move forward after Senator Marco Rubio announced he was withdrawing his support over concerns about the judge’s actions in two criminal cases. . . . “That is a slender reed for Senator Rubio to hang this on,” said Representative Alcee Hastings, Democrat of Florida, referring to the two court cases.