the last straw


The last in a series of grievances or burdens that finally exceeds the limits of endurance: “The management has given me nothing but trouble since I took this job, and now they've cut my benefits! Well, that's the last straw: I quit!” It comes from an old expression, “the straw that broke the camel's back.”

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with the last straw

last straw, the

The final annoyance or setback, which even though minor makes one lose patience. For example, I could put up with his delays and missed deadlines, but when he claimed the work was unimportant—that was the last straw! This term is a shortening of the straw that broke the camel's back, which conveys a vivid image of an overloaded animal being given one slight additional weight. The expression dates from the mid-1800s, and replaced the earlier the last feather that breaks the horse's back.

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