Mobile Banner

clutch at straws

to try to fix a problem


clutch at straws = sich an einen Strohhalm klammern (LEO) --- GOOGLE INDEX clutch(ing) at straws: approximately 200,000 hits grasp(ing) at straws: approximately 330,000 hits



Is pre-employment testing a cost-effective way to find the right person for the right job? Or is it just one more indication that some American corporations are continuing to discriminate in hiring practices, while CLUTCHING AT STRAWS to compensate for poor management?

(Black Enterprise Magazine)

Y Not Chicken, a chicken restaurant catering to the downtown market, is GRASPING AT STRAWS to survive a downturn they say has cost them 40 percent of their business.

(The Baltimore Daily Record)

Did you

clutch/grasp at straws

- to be willing to try anything to improve a difficult or disadvantageous situation, even if it has little chance of success

(Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary)

Clutching or grasping at straws comes from the old proverb "a drowning man will catch at straws”, meaning a desperate person will try anything to save himself, no matter how unlikely.

This proverb has been traced back to 'Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation' (1534) by Thomas More. It was first cited in the United States in 'Colonial Currency' (1720). The proverb is found in varying forms: a drowning man will clutch at a straw; a drowning man grabs at a straw; a drowning man snatches at straws, etc.

Speaking of straws, this word gives us several other idioms:

the final/last straw (see OWAD archive) or the straw that breaks the camel's back- the last in a series of unpleasant events which finally makes you feel that you cannot continue to accept a bad situation

draw the short straw - to be the one member of a group who has to do an unpleasant job

a straw in the wind - something that shows you what might happen in the future

a man of straw - a person or an idea that is weak and easy to defeat

you can't make bricks without straw - an expression you can use to say that you cannot do something correctly without the necessary materials

(sources: The Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings by Gregory Y. Titelman, The Phrase Finder, The Cambridge International Dictionary Of Idioms)

say something like:

"I tried for weeks to get a sales appointment with this company. Clutching at straws, I finally called the CEO direct. He said he will have someone get back to me by tomorrow to set up a meeting.”

More Word Quizzes: