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forlorn hope

1. An undertaking that seems very unlikely to succeed. This plan you have is a forlorn hope and will never work out the way you want.
2. A group of soldiers sent on an extremely dangerous mission. The phrase comes from the Dutch verloren hoop, meaning "lost troop." Have you heard anything from the forlorn hope yet? Did they reach their target?
See also: forlorn, hope

a forlorn hope

a faint remaining hope or chance; a desperate attempt.
This expression developed in the mid 16th century from the Dutch expression verloren hoop ‘lost troop’. The phrase originally denoted a band of soldiers picked to begin an attack, many of whom would not survive; the equivalent French phrase is enfants perdus ‘lost children’. The current sense, which dates from the mid 17th century, arose from a misunderstanding of the etymology.
See also: forlorn, hope

forlorn hope

An undertaking with little chance of success; a lost cause. This expression, while seemingly quite straightforward in English, actually came from a Dutch term of the late sixteenth century, verloren hoop, which meant “a lost troop of soldiers,” that is, an expendable squad. The British mistook hoop for hope and changed the meaning to a desperate undertaking, which has persisted since the seventeenth century.
See also: forlorn, hope
References in periodicals archive ?
The Forlorn Incantations continues to underscore major themes present in Adimando's overall body of work (collection, escapism, protection, surveillance), but the exhibition will focus more specifically on a concept that addresses the blurred line between protection and imprisonment by way of obsessive order and feigned attempts at "perfection.
FORLORN Dogs wait for their master outside his home
I was buying a lottery ticket in the forlorn hope that I might become astoundingly rich.
Ken Jackson, of Forlorn Hope Farm in South Yorkshire, and his daughter Kate McNeil, dispute the validity of the TB test.
Forlorn their hope may be, but like everyone else - apart from the bankers that is - ordinary working people cannot understand why they are penalised in a way that the financial industry is not.
Dupont and his contribution to British film; Variete, Moulin Rouge, Piccadilly, Atlantic, Two worlds, Cape Forlorn.
However, I didn't do too much damage, as the track looked dodgy from an early stage and I took it very steady Struggling to find anything to take out of York, which was a messy affair from start to finish, but both Stoic and Sweet Lightning performed well enough to say they are not forlorn hopes for the Cambridgeshire.
Summary: Liverpool missed Fernando Torres as they dropped two more points against Fulham in their increasingly forlorn pursuit of fourth place.
SOUTH Africa twice came back from forlorn positions to defeat a new-look Australia by three wickets in a thrilling opening to the one-day international summer at the MCG today.
THE LAST BEAR ON THE SHELF WHEN shopping down in town One big store was closing down Windows and shelves becoming bare On one shelf sat a lonely teddy bear He looked so sad and so forlorn Wondering if he would have a home the coming morn
Not the forlorn cubes of cheddar speared on a sea of toothpicks, but a buffet spread worthy of a still life.
From the need to "justify tremendous loss" on the sad, nostalgic "Valley Road '86" to the forlorn request "Could you maybe tuck me in?
man, it tears off your clothing, leaves you forlorn.
THE troubled star's been spotted again wandering the streets looking lost and forlorn.
The last thing they need now is to lose out on Forlan and end up forlorn again