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push comes to shove, if

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Also, when push comes to shove. When matters must be confronted, when a crucial point is reached, as in If push comes to shove, the Federal Reserve Board will lower the interest rate, or They supposedly support equality, but when push comes to shove they always seem to promote a man instead of a woman. This term comes from rugby, where, after an infraction of rules, forwards from each team face off and push against one another until one player can kick the ball to a teammate and resume the game. Its figurative use dates from the 1950s. Also see the synonym if worst comes to worst.

QUIZ
SHALL WE PLAY A "SHALL" VS. "SHOULD" CHALLENGE?
Should you take this quiz on “shall” versus “should”? It should prove to be a quick challenge!
Question 1 of 6
Which form is used to state an obligation or duty someone has?

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

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