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"on the/his/her last ropes"

Posted by RRC on December 16, 2005

In Reply to: "On the/his/her last ropes" posted by Denis on December 16, 2005

: I have seen people saying that somebody is "on the/his/her last ropes". Where does it come from? What is the image? Apparently it means that somebody is in a desperate condition. I think that the image is of a person hanging on the last rope, i.e. the last support, but I also heard that it refers to a boxer leaning on the ropes.

I think you have probably combined several phrases into one - "he's on the ropes" and "you get on my last nerve" (maybe a little "the last straw" thrown in?). "On the ropes" is pretty much as you describe. "You're on my last nerve" means you irritate/annoy the person so much that they are about to lose their temper. "The last straw" is "the straw that broke the camel's back" - after a bad day, losing my keys was the last straw. RRC