clutch at straws

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clutch at straws

1. To make a desperate attempt to salvage a bad situation. A: "But what about all those times I took the trash out when you hadn't even asked me to?" B: "That has nothing to do with why you're in trouble now, so stop clutching at straws."
2. To consider positive suggestions or thoughts in a bad situation. OK, you're just clutching at straws now, fantasizing about a potential buyer when your house has been on the market for months.
See also: clutch, straw
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

clutch at straws

Fig. to continue to seek solutions, ideas, or hopes that are insubstantial. When you talk of cashing in quick on your inventions, you are just clutching at straws. That is not a real solution to the problem. You are just clutching at straws.
See also: clutch, straw
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

clutch at straws

mainly BRITISH or

grasp at straws

1. If you clutch at straws or grasp at straws, you try to do something that is very unlikely to succeed because you are desperate or have tried everything else. This was a desperate speech, made by a man clutching at straws to retain his career. I was probably grasping at straws in a search for a cure, but I thought I would give the therapy a go.
2. If you clutch at straws or grasp at straws, you try to find hope in a situation where there is no reason to feel hope. By this time, Rosa's behaviour was extremely strange and we were all very concerned. I told myself that at least she still had a job, but I was clutching at straws. Note: This expression comes from the proverb a drowning man will clutch at a straw. People are still clinging to the hope that something will happen — but I think it's like a drowning man trying to clutch at a straw. Note: The image here is of a drowning person who is desperately trying to take hold of anything to save himself or herself, even a straw.
See also: clutch, straw
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

clutch (or grasp or catch) at straws

do, say, or believe anything, however unlikely or inadequate, which seems to offer hope in a desperate situation.
This expression comes from the proverb a drowning man will clutch at a straw , which is recorded in various forms since the mid 16th century.
See also: clutch, straw
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

clutch/grasp at ˈstraws

try all possible means to find a solution or some hope in a difficult or unpleasant situation, even though this seems very unlikely: The doctors have told him that he has only 6 months to live, but he won’t accept it. He’s going to a new clinic in Switzerland next week, but he’s just clutching at straws.
See also: clutch, grasp, straw
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

grasp at straws, to

To make a hopeless effort to save oneself. The term comes from the ancient image of a drowning man clutching at insubstantial reeds in an attempt to save himself, and it often was put as to catch or clutch at straws. It appeared in print as early as the sixteenth century and soon was regarded as a proverb. Indeed, Samuel Richardson so identifies it in Clarissa (1748): “A drowning man will catch at a straw, the proverb well says.” An earlier usage is “We do not as men redie to be drowned, catch at euery straw” (John Prime, Fruitful and Brief Discourse, 1583).
See also: grasp, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
The Scot, who wasn't this time indulging in his famed mind games, more just stating facts, said: "All we can do is to win our game next week but we're clutching at straws a little bit."
And our leaders are fumbling around, clutching at straws.
Chris West (Mailbag, March 27) refers to the highways issue as clutching at straws. Well, in terms of straw-clutching reasons to object it's just ahead of Great Crested Newts which always seem to turn up where a developer wants to build houses.
At no point in the published pre-budget discussions is there any suggestion that Mrs Thatcher was promoting any specific location and it was down to the local authorities and agencies of the North East to convince Nissan to choose Washington Martin Callanan seems to be clutching at straws as there is no indication in the published correspondence to show Mrs Thatcher favoured the North East over any other site.
IT appears that Kelly Brook may be clutching at straws if she thinks she can get back with boyfriend Thom Evans.
PGMC legal counsel Jose Bernas said the PCSO official, who made the claim was "clutching at straws." The PCSO official said that the "whereas clause" in its contract with PGMC is not binding.
While Coun Bally Singh has to be applauded for his idea (to reward shoppers with free parking) he is clutching at straws.
I would also like to point out to those advocating a reduction in the field size that they are clutching at straws. Witness last season's Topham and look at how many horses are still going when a fatality occurs.
Jenson Button found himself clutching at straws following a Korean Grand Prix that has virtually ruined his hopes of becoming Britain's first back-to-back Formula One world champion.
Close to a nervous breakdown and clutching at straws, I eventually penned a ludicrous 300 word piece on the lame fact a trailer laden with potatoes had been stuck behind the Popemobile for over two hours, as it wound its way around the Midlands.
Many may feel the Everton boss is clutching at straws against a side who are seemingly moving relentlessly towards a quintuple, despite a recent dip in performance levels in the Premier League.
Labour leader Joe Anderson accused him of clutching at straws Election night pictures: MARTIN BIRCHALL; BRADLEY: Challenged
It seems to me the police were clutching at straws.
But once again MailSportwas out ahead of our rivals by telling you his exact destination, leaving the also-rans clutching at straws.
The Blues ran in eight tries to leave Edinburgh clutching at straws last night.