grasp at straws

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grasp at straws

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 grasping at straws."
See also: grasp, straw
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

grasping at straws

Fig. to depend on something that is useless; to make a futile attempt at something. John couldn't answer the teacher's question. He was just grasping at straws. There I was, grasping at straws, with no one to help me.
See also: grasping, straw
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

grasp at straws

Also, clutch at straws. Make a desperate attempt at saving oneself. For example, He had lost the argument, but he kept grasping at straws, naming numerous previous cases that had little to do with this one . This metaphoric expression alludes to a drowning person trying to save himself by grabbing at flimsy reeds. First recorded in 1534, the term was used figuratively by the late 1600s.
See also: grasp, straw
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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