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forlorn hope

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noun
  1. a perilous or desperate enterprise.
  2. a vain hope.
  3. Obsolete. a group of soldiers assigned to perform some unusually dangerous service.
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Origin of forlorn hope

1530–40; folk-etymological alteration of Dutch verloren hoop literally, lost troop
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for forlorn hope

Historical Examples

  • Dick Prince was the only one who lost his life in the “forlorn-hope.”

    Ungava

    R.M. Ballantyne

  • But Skinflint is an invaluable fellow to lead a forlorn-hope.

  • For what seemed like an age there was no sign of our forlorn-hope swimmer.

    Pirates' Hope

    Francis Lynde

  • No quest is too perilous for him, no forlorn-hope too daring.

    God and Mr. Wells

    William Archer

  • Mackinnon had promised a company to the forlorn-hope leader, if he survived.


British Dictionary definitions for forlorn hope

forlorn hope

noun
  1. a hopeless or desperate enterprise
  2. a faint hope
  3. obsolete a group of soldiers assigned to an extremely dangerous duty
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Word Origin

C16 (in the obsolete sense): changed (by folk etymology) from Dutch verloren hoop lost troop, from verloren, past participle of verliezen to lose + hoop troop (literally: heap)
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