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Last-ditch

Posted by ESC on February 26, 2000

In Reply to: Re: A Last Ditch Effort posted by Bruce Kahl on February 24, 2000

: : Can anyone tell me the origin of the phrase "A Last Ditch Effort"? I would greatly appreciate it.

: Just a guess:

: Military?

: A battle fought or waged with desperation from the last ditch as opposed from the first ditch?

"last-ditch -- 'There's one certain means by which I can be sure never to see my country's ruin: I will die in the last ditch." William of Orange (c. 1677).

Describing a desperate final measure. The last ditch was, in military terms, the last line of defense. The term had begun to be used figuratively by the eighteenth century, when Thomas Jefferson wrote, 'A government driven to the last ditch by the universal call for liberty.' Similarly, to 'die in the last ditch' means to resist to the end; it dates from the early 1700s." From "Fighting Words: from War, Rebellion, and Other Combative Capers" by Christine Ammer (NTC Publishing Group, Chicago, 1999).