on the ropes


On the verge of defeat or collapse, helpless, as in They acknowledged that their campaign was on the ropes, and they could not possibly win the election. This expression, alluding to a boxer forced back to the ropes of the ring and leaning against them for support, has been used figuratively since the mid-1900s.

QUIZZES

QUIZ YOURSELF ON THESE WORDS FROM BROWN GIRL DREAMING!

Visualize yourself passing this quiz on words from Jacqueline Woodson’s exquisite verse novel “Brown Girl Dreaming,” and then take the quiz to prove you can do it! (Because you can.)
Question 1 of 10
What does “barren” mean?
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.