Clutching at straws

Posted by ESC on January 05, 2004

In Reply to: Clutching at straws posted by R. Berg on January 05, 2004

: : does anyone know the origin of clutching at straws, or maybe, grasping at straws.

: An old proverb that goes something like "Drowning men will grasp at straws," meaning that people who feel desperate will try anything, even if it's unlikely to help.

A DROWNING MAN WILL CATCH AT STRAWS - "A desperate person will try anything to save himself, no matter how unlikely. The proverb has been traced back to 'Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation' by Thomas More (1478-1535). First cited in the United States in 'Colonial Currency' . 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. The proverb has its counterpart in other languages too." From Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).