(one) can't win

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(one) can't win

1. One is unable to find or create any success; one has been constantly and/or thoroughly defeated, bested, belittled, etc., in recent times. So Mary divorced John after their company went under, and then his mother died a week later? Man, that guy can't win lately. That's the third manuscript to be rejected by the publishers. I guess I just can't win.
2. One cannot please someone or everyone. The kids aren't happy if they don't have the same fancy gadgets as their friends, and my wife's not happy if I buy the things for them—I can't win! First he criticizes me for spending too much time at home, then he criticizes me for being away too often with my friends. I just can't win with him.
See also: win

you can't win

Also, you just can't win. Whatever one does is wrong or not enough, as in Every time I block one of the woodchuck's holes, I find another; you just can't win. [First half of 1900s] For a synonym, see damned if I do, damned if I don't.
See also: win

I, you, etc. ˌcan’t ˈwin

(spoken) whatever you do, you cannot succeed completely or please everyone: If I spend time with Phil, Jane’s unhappy. If I spend time with her, he’s jealous. I just can’t win. ▶ ˌno-ˈwin adj. (of a situation, policy, etc.) that will end badly whatever you decide to do: They’re in a no-win situation at the moment. Whatever they do, someone criticizes them.
See also: win
References in classic literature ?
She cannot win in a real battle, having no muscles, only nerves.
When that is off we shall see how he regards the fair maid whose heart he cannot win, though her stern father bestows her hand," returned the troubadour.
"They will burn us out, since they cannot win their way past us.
What the devil, Captain, one cannot win all one's battles!
'What is the use,' replied the other, 'of being Prince of the Gnomes, and having a mother who is queen over all the four elements, if I cannot win the love of the Princess Argentine?
I give you this prize though you cannot win one; you can now neither wrestle nor fight, and cannot enter for the javelin-match nor foot-races, for the hand of age has been laid heavily upon you."
'It is a well-known fact that Governor Bello cannot win any Local Government given his poor performance and the way and manner at which the resources of the state are being massively looted.
Perera making a case for announcing United National Party (UNP) Deputy Leader, Minster Sajith Premadasa as the party's presidential candidate says the UNP cannot win an election only with the support of the Colombo elite.
'It is not possible that one team cannot lose or the other team cannot win, like England lost and it is not like India cannot lose, but on paper they are the strongest' he said.
Law said: "There is no reason why Tiger cannot win this week at Bethpage and make it two Major wins in a row.
RAFA Benitez admits he "cannot win" when Newcastle United host his former club Liverpool in their final home match of the season.
Summary: Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], March 5 (ANI): West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) cannot win elections over jawans' blood.
Modi cannot win the election with the help of Indian media and he should stop dangerous moves which can damage is country as the human cost of conflict will be extremely high.
Look at the following presidential statements: on the Bureau of Customs corruption, 'Corruption in the BOC cannot be resolved whoever heads it'; on traffic problems, 'I give up'; on the West Philippine Sea, 'We cannot win a battle or war with China'; on the Edsa rehabilitation, 'Let Edsa remain as it is for 20 years'; on inflation and oil price hikes, 'You can...behead me, I cannot do anything about oil'; on the antidrug campaign, 'Others cannot do it, how can we?
To be completely fair both players have only four plays and if First cannot win in four moves the win is awarded to Second.