[ doo-er-dahy ]
See synonyms for do-or-die on
  1. reflecting or characterized by an irrevocable decision to succeed at all costs; desperate; all-out: a do-or-die attempt to halt the invaders.

  2. involving a potentially fatal crisis or crucial emergency.

Origin of do-or-die

First recorded in 1875–80 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use do-or-die in a sentence

  • The stranger had a most impressive and yet absurd air of drunken sternness written in his face, a do-or-die look.

    Twelve Men | Theodore Dreiser
  • They listened attentively, and went out on the diamond with a do-or-die expression written on their faces.

British Dictionary definitions for do-or-die


  1. (prenominal) of or involving a determined and sometimes reckless effort to succeed

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with do-or-die


Exert supreme effort because failure is close at hand, as in Carol was going to set up the computer, do or die. This hyperbolic expression in effect says one will not be deterred by any obstacle. [c. 1600]

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