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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."
As for the forlorn incumbent of the away dug-out his next 48 hours would have been difficult.
I'm sure the assistant and I both knew just how forlorn that hope is.
But if that too proves a forlorn hope, the disappointment may be offset by an announcement about enterprise zones to be set up in the North East.
Stringing the biography from movie to move, he discusses such topics as Variete as a precursor of his British Expressionism; Piccadilly, Anna May Wong, and the expressive blue light; Two Worlds, the pogrom, and Dupont's Jewish subjectivity; and the lighthouse invited the female antihero in Cape Forlorn. Distributed in the US by Associated University Presses.
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
Just get out there." With a focus on guerrilla gardening (i.e., the greening of forlorn public spaces), plus a writing style that rejects horticultural snobbery, Bellamy's blog is smart, informative, and inspiring--even at a landscape-challenged time of year.
TWELVE months ago even the most optimistic Aston Villa fans would have been more likely to have "forlorn" than "Forlan" printed on their replica shirts.
forlorn, thought the communications director, and he thought of kindling a fire in the grill, for old times' sake, but the other guests were shucking their coats and moving briskly toward the kitchen, so he followed them.
Long out of print, these stories are derived from a variety of sources which include his own self-published 'Forlorn Funnies', as well as independent magazines and papers.
But Roddy Davidson, an analyst at Altium Securities, said this was 'a forlorn hope'.
I leave bouquets on his grave: pussy willows, tulips, lilacs, and irises, but they look so forlorn. There is no peace there tight now.
Sir Alex Ferguson has given his backing for England coach Sven-GUran Eriksson to include Wayne Rooney when he names his provisional World Cup squad today but believes it is a "forlorn hope" that he will be fit for the finals in Germany.