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Down to the wire

Posted by ESC on May 27, 2003

In Reply to: Phrase origin posted by Henry on May 27, 2003

: : Greetings
: : could anyone tell me the meaning and origin of "down to the wire"

: It is generally attributed to the wire above the finishing line at a race course. The wire was to help judges decide close finishes. Decisions thus went down to the wire.

Here's what it says in the archives, courtesy of "bob":

Horse racing. A wire is stretched above the finish line so that a camera above can take a picture at the moment the first horse crosses to settle the order of finish even in a close race ... the metaphor is extended to many kinds of contest, including elections where one can win by a nose, get nosed out, finish out of the money, be an also-ran, and any of a number of race-related terms.