on the beam-ends

on the beam-ends

In a precarious and/or desperate situation. The phrase was originally used to describe the tilted position of a ship before it capsizes. My sister's on the beam-ends now that she's lost her job—I might have to lend her some money so she doesn't lose her house. Tell me the truth, doc—am I on the beam-ends, or do I still have treatment options available?
See also: on