bitter end

[bit-er end for 1; bit-er end for 2]

noun

the conclusion of a difficult or unpleasant situation; the last or furthest extremity: Despite the unpleasant scenes in the movie, she insisted on staying until the bitter end.
Nautical.
  1. the inboard end of an anchor chain or cable, secured in the chain locker of a vessel.
  2. the end of any chain or cable.

Nearby words

  1. bitter almond oil,
  2. bitter apple,
  3. bitter cassava,
  4. bitter cress,
  5. bitter dock,
  6. bitter herb,
  7. bitter lake,
  8. bitter lakes,
  9. bitter melon,
  10. bitter orange

Origin of bitter end

1620–30 in form bitters end; probably bitt + -er1, later taken as bitter

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for bitter end

  • Indeed, how well does any bitter-end rationalist know anybody?

    Pieces of Hate|Heywood Broun


British Dictionary definitions for bitter end

bitter end

noun

nautical the end of a line, chain, or cable, esp the end secured in the chain locker of a vessel
  1. to the bitter enduntil the finish of a task, job, or undertaking, however unpleasant or difficult
  2. until final defeat or death

Word Origin for bitter end

C19: in both senses perhaps from bitt

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for bitter end

bitter end

n.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with bitter end

bitter end

The last extremity; also, death or ruin. For example, I'm supporting the union's demands to the bitter end, or Even though they fight a lot, I'm sure Mom and Dad will stay together to the bitter end. The source of this term may have been nautical, a bitter being a turn of a cable around posts, or bitts, on a ship's deck, and the bitter end meaning “the part of the cable that stays inboard.” Thus, when a rope is paid out to the bitter end, no more remains. [Mid-1800s]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.