push one's luck. luck(def 12).
    when/if push comes to shove, when or if matters are ultimately confronted or resolved; when or if a problem must be faced; in a crucial situation: If push comes to shove, the government will impose quotas on imports.

Origin of push

1250–1300; Middle English pushen, poshen, posson (v.) < Middle French pousser, Old French po(u)lser < Latin pulsāre. See pulsate
Related formsout·push, verb (used with object)un·pushed, adjective

Synonyms for push Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for push-off

Historical Examples of push-off

  • Here we made the “tinkering” and the “first push-off” shots.

    Down the Columbia

    Lewis R. Freeman

  • Then get against the side of the tank, and placing the ball ten or twelve feet away, try to secure it with one hand on a push-off.

    Swimming Scientifically Taught

    Frank Eugen Dalton and Louis C. Dalton

British Dictionary definitions for push-off



(when tr, often foll by off, away, etc) to apply steady force to (something) in order to move it
to thrust (one's way) through something, such as a crowd, by force
(when intr, often foll by for) to apply oneself vigorously (to achieving a task, plan, etc)
(tr) to encourage or urge (a person) to some action, decision, etc
(when intr, often foll by for) to be an advocate or promoter (of)to push for acceptance of one's theories
(tr) to use one's influence to help (a person)to push one's own candidate
to bear upon (oneself or another person) in order to achieve more effort, better results, etcshe was a woman who liked to push her husband
  1. (tr)to take undue risks, esp through overconfidence, thus risking failureto push one's luck
  2. (intr)to act overconfidently
sport to hit (a ball) with a stiff pushing stroke
(tr) informal to sell (narcotic drugs) illegally
(intr; foll by out, into, etc) (esp of geographical features) to reach or extendthe cliffs pushed out to the sea
(tr) to overdevelop (a photographic film), usually by the equivalent of up to two stops, to compensate for underexposure or increase contrast
push up daisies or push up the daisies slang to be dead and buried


the act of pushing; thrust
a part or device that is pressed to operate some mechanism
informal ambitious or enterprising drive, energy, etc
informal a special effort or attempt to advance, as of an army in a warto make a push
informal a number of people gathered in one place, such as at a party
Australian slang a group or gang, esp one considered to be a clique
sport a stiff pushing stroke
at a push informal with difficulty; only just
the push informal, mainly British dismissal, esp from employment
when push comes to shove informal when matters become critical; when a decision needs to be made

Word Origin for push

C13: from Old French pousser, from Latin pulsāre, from pellere to drive
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 push-off

"act of pushing off," 1902, from push (v.) + off (adv.).



early 14c., from Old French poulser (Modern French pousser), from Latin pulsare "to beat, strike, push," frequentative of pellere (past participle pulsus) "to push, drive, beat" (see pulse (n.1)). Meaning "promote" is from 1714; meaning "approach a certain age" is from 1937. For palatization of -s-, OED compares brush (n.1); quash. Related: Pushed; pushing.

"Pushing up the daisies now," said a soldier of his dead comrade. ["The American Florist," vol. XLVIII, No. 1504, March 31, 1917]

To push (someone) around is from 1923. To push (one's) luck is from 1754. To push the envelope in figurative sense is late 1980s. To push up daisies "be dead and buried" is from World War I.



1560s, from push (v.). Phrase push comes to shove is from 1936.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper