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the straw that broke the donkey's back
A seemingly small or inconsequential issue, problem, or burden that proves to be the final catalyst in causing an overworked or overburdened person, system, organization, etc., to fail, give up, or collapse. (A less common variant of "the straw that broke the camel's back.") I was already fed up with my husband's lazy, selfish ways, but it was his refusal to get off the couch and come with me to my mother's funeral that was the straw that broke the donkey's back! With governmental resources already strained to the breaking point, any sort of environmental disaster would likely be the straw that broke the donkey's back.
1. Literally, to stop walking or marching in unison with others. Come on, Tommy, don't break step! This band formation has to look perfect at the football game on Saturday!
2. By extension, to break from conformity with a larger group or others who one previously agreed with. The eminent scientist broke step with the research team by suggesting an entirely different conclusion about the data.
all hell breaks loose
slang Said of a chaotic or disruptive situation, especially one that begins suddenly or unexpectedly. I'm just walking down the street when all hell breaks loose, and drivers start beeping and screaming at each other for no apparent reason. One guy pushed another at the bar and then all hell broke loose—that's why we left!
be flat broke
slang To have no money. Primarily heard in US. I get paid next week, so can we go out to dinner then? I'm just flat broke right now. I'm flat broke once again and don't know how I'm going to pay my rent.
all hell broke loose
all sorts of wild or terrible things happened. When the boss left early for the weekend, all hell broke loose.
completely broke; without any money. I'm dead broke—not a nickel to my name. I've been dead broke for a month now.
flat brokeand flat busted
Fig. having no money at all. Sorry, I'm flat broke. Not a cent on me. You may be flat broke, but you will find a way to pay your electricity bill or you will live in the dark. Mary was flat busted, and it was two more weeks before she was due to get paid.
to completely run out of money and other assets. This company is going to go broke if you don't stop spending money foolishly. I made some bad investments last year, and it looks as if I may go broke this year.
go for broke
to risk everything; to try as hard as possible. Okay, this is my last chance. I'm going for broke. Look at Mary starting to move in the final hundred yards of the race! She is really going for broke.
go for someone or something
1. Lit. to go out for someone or something; to go fetch someone or something. I am going for bread—do we need anything else from the store? Roger went for his aunt, who had arrived at the station.
2. Fig. to find someone or something interesting or desirable. I really go for chocolate in any form. Tom really goes for Gloria in a big way.
3. . Fig. to believe or accept something or something that someone says. It sounds pretty strange. Do you think they'll go for it?
go for broke
to risk everything and try as hard as possible to achieve something You can't possibly go for broke if you're afraid of what might happen if you don't succeed.Related vocabulary: go all out
if it ain't broke, don't fix it(spoken) also if it's not broke, don't fix it
it is a mistake to try to improve something that works He hasn't made a lot of changes to the team since taking over as head coach, figuring if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
go for somebody/something
to like or admire someone or something I don't go for movies with lots of violence. My mom likes pop music, but her mother would never have gone for stuff like that.Related vocabulary: something goes for somebody/something else
go for something
1. to try to have or achieve something He'll be going for his third Olympic gold medal.
2. to choose something Offered the choice between a higher salary and more vacation time, which would you go for? People who always bought a small car are now going for small trucks.
go for broke(informal)
to risk everything in order to achieve the result you want She decided to go for broke and pursue her acting career full-time.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
something that you say which means if a system or method works well there is no reason to change it We're happy with our exam system in Scotland, and as they say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
They broke the mould when they made somebody/something.
something that you say which means someone or something is very special and that there is not another person or thing like them They broke the mold when they made Elvis. There's never been a star to match him.
be flat broke(informal)
to have no money at all I can't even pay the rent this month. I'm flat broke.
all hell breaks loose(informal)
if all hell breaks loose, a situation suddenly becomes noisy and violent, usually with a lot of people arguing or fighting This big guy walked up to the bar and hit Freddie and suddenly all hell broke loose.
bed and breakfast
Also, B and B. A hotel or other hostelry that offers a room for the night and a morning meal at an inclusive price. For example, Staying at a bed and breakfast meant never having to plan morning meals. This term and the practice originated in Britain and have become widespread. [Early 1900s]
Also, stone or stony broke . Completely penniless. For example, I can't help you-I'm flat broke, or He's stone broke again. The first term dates from the mid-1800s and uses flat in the sense of "completely" or "downright." The variant dates from the late 1800s.
Also, go bust. Undergo financial collapse, lose most or all of one's money. For example, The company's about to go broke, or The producer of that movie went bust. The first expression dates from the mid-1600s; the second, slangier variant dates from the mid-1800s.
1. Go in order to get, as in I'll go for the paper, or He went for the doctor. This usage, dating from the late 1500s, gave rise to the 20th-century noun gofer, a person who is habitually sent on routine errands.
2. Be equivalent to or valued as; also, pass for, serve as. For example, All our efforts are going for very little, or That silver went for a lot of money, or That sofa can go for a bed. [Mid-1500s]
3. Aim or try for, especially making a vigorous effort. For example, They're going for the league championship. This idiom is also put as go for it, as in When Steve said he'd like to change careers, his wife told him to go for it. The related phrase go for broke means "to commit all one's available resources toward achieving a goal," as in Our competitors are going for broke to get some of our accounts. The first expression dates from the mid-1500s; the two colloquial variants from the first half of the 1900s. Also see all out; go out for.
4. Attack, as in We have to tie up our dog, because he loves to go for letter carriers. A hyperbolic variant, go for the jugular, is used for an all-out attack on the most vital part, as in In political arguments he always goes for the jugular. The jugular is a blood vessel whose rupture is life-threatening. [Colloquial; late 1800s]
5. Have a special liking for, as in I really go for progressive jazz. [Colloquial; first half of 1900s]
6. Be valid for or applicable to, as in Kevin hates broccoli, and that goes for Dean, too. [Early 1900s] Also see have going for one.
if it ain't broke don't fix it
Don't meddle with something that's functioning adequately. For example, So long as they like our proposal let's not change it; if it ain't broke don't fix it . This folksy and deliberately ungrammatical expression dates from the mid-1900s. For a synonym, see leave well enough alone.
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.
See also: last
1. To reach or move toward something or someone: When the police officer looked away, the thief went for the door.
2. To reach or move toward something or someone in order to attack or injure: The angry dog went straight for my leg. The debater went for her opponents weaknesses.
3. To try to grab something quickly, especially a weapon: The soldier went for the knife on the table, but slipped and fell down.
4. To make a concerted effort to achieve some goal: I am going for my second tournament win. If you think you have a chance of winning, go for it. The running back saw an opening and went for it. Whenever I see an opportunity to make more money, I go for it.
5. To try to attain or produce some condition: The restaurant is going for a rustic atmosphere. Today's fashions are going for a colorful look.
6. To choose something: After trying all the different flavors, I went for the vanilla ice cream.
7. To have a special liking for something; enjoy something: My parents go for the older styles of jazz. I could really go for a beer right now.
8. To leave temporarily in order to fetch or get something: We're going for pizza; do you want to come along?
9. To apply or be relevant to someone or something: These rules go for the adults as well as the children. It's hard to eat pizza without making a mess, and the same goes for ice cream cones.
10. To be sold or available for purchase at some price: This phone normally goes for $100, but we'll give it to you for $60. How much did that old house finally go for? That painting will probably go for $1000 at auction, but I wouldn't pay one cent.
11. To be of support or value to someone: She had everything going for her after the success of her last album, but she threw it all away on drugs and alcohol. The team has a lot going for them. The one thing going for him is his talent for making people laugh; otherwise he's a failure.
mod. completely broke; without any money. I’m dead broke—not a nickel to my name.
mod. having no money at all. Sorry, I’m flat broke. Not a cent on me.
go for broke
in. to choose to risk everything; to try to succeed against great odds. We decided to go for broke, and that is exactly how we ended up.
If it ain’t broke don’t fix itand IIABDFI
sent. & comp. abb. Leave well enough alone.; Don’t tamper with something that is all right as it is. It’s fine. Leave it alone. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
If it ain’t broke, fix it till it isand IIABFITII
sent. & comp. abb. Don’t leave well enough alone.; Just keep tampering. (A play on If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.) Does it work too well or something. You must say if it ain’t broke, fix it till it is. Leave well enough alone.
mod. completely broke. I’m sorry, I’m stone broke. Can I send you a check?
the straw that broke the camel's back
The final limit of capacity, including patience. An Arabian anecdote told of a camel whose owner loaded the beast of burden with as much straw as possible. Not satisfied with the staggering load he had put on the camel, the owner added just one last piece of straw. Even that one wisp was too much, and the animal collapsed with a broken back, leaving the owner with no way to take his goods to the market. The story is a parable for all the times you've been repeatedly irked until you can't take it anymore and you explode.