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last-ditch

[last-ditch, lahst-]
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adjective
  1. done finally in desperation to avoid defeat, failure, disaster, etc.: a last-ditch attempt to avert war.
  2. fought with every resource at one's command: a last-ditch battle for the pennant.
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Origin of last-ditch

First recorded in 1905–10; last1 + ditch
Related formslast-ditch·er, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

franticlast-gaspdo-or-diedesperatefinal

Examples from the Web for last-ditch

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He's been the people's Golden Boy, their last-ditch hope for peace.

    Bear Trap

    Alan Edward Nourse

  • The valorous retreat of the French and their last-ditch stand on the Marne compelled admiration.

  • I knew then that he had already bought forty thousand, and that this was the last-ditch stand.

    Friday, the Thirteenth

    Thomas W. Lawson

  • All those dying, suffering, last-ditch men lying around, and the two worn-out doctors hurrying among 'em—they didn't care.

  • They were, however, potentially so capable of making things worse that they would not be tried save as last-ditch measures.

    The Vortex Blaster

    Edward Elmer Smith


British Dictionary definitions for last-ditch

last-ditch

noun
  1. (modifier) made or done as a last desperate attempt or effort in the face of opposition
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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 last-ditch

adj.

"on the last line of defense," 1715, attributed to William of Orange; if so, originally in a Dutch context.

We have no space to enter into the detail of the heroic struggle maintained by the young stadtholder and his faithful Dutchmen; how they laid their country under water, and successfully kept the powerful invader at bay. Once the contest seemed utterly hopeless. William was advised to compromise the matter, and yield up Holland as the conquest of Louis XIV. "No," replied he; "I mean to die in the last ditch." A speech alone sufficient to render his memory immortal. [Agnes Strickland, "Lives of the Queens of England," London, 1847]
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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper