lost cause


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lost cause

Something that has no or a very low chance of succeeding or turning out well. The general gave orders to surrender as soon as he saw the battle was a lost cause. Trying to keep a clean house with three young children is a lost cause.
See also: cause, lost

lost cause

a futile attempt; a hopeless matter. Our campaign to have the new party on the ballot was a lost cause. Todd gave it up as a lost cause.
See also: cause, lost

lost cause

A hopeless undertaking, as in Trying to get him to quit smoking is a lost cause. In the 1860s this expression was widely used to describe the Confederacy. [Mid-1800s] Also see losing battle.
See also: cause, lost

a lost cause

COMMON If something or someone is a lost cause, they are certain to fail and it is impossible to help them or make them succeed. It would have been all too easy to write this dog off as a lost cause, his trauma was so severe. He tried shouting for help, but he knew it was a lost cause.
See also: cause, lost

a lost ˈcause

an ambition, project or aim which seems certain to end in failure: For many years he supported the development of the electric car, but he now thinks it’s a lost cause.Trying to help him to improve his pronunciation is a lost cause.
See also: cause, lost

lost cause

n. a hopeless or worthless thing or person. The whole play began to wash out during the second act. It was a lost cause by the third.
See also: cause, lost

lost cause, a

An undertaking doomed to fail. Two early uses of this term date from the 1860s. An item in the New York Herald of July 2, 1868, referred to the cause of the South in the American Civil War as “a lost cause.” The quotation marks appeared in the article, indicating that the writer may have been quoting a familiar phrase or perhaps Matthew Arnold’s description of Oxford University as “the home of lost causes” (in Essays in Criticism, 1865).
See also: lost
References in periodicals archive ?
In this study of rhetoric, Towns (retired, communication studies, Southeast Missouri State U.) analyzes the oratory of the Lost Cause speakers of the first decades following the US Civil War, arguing that the victory of Lost Cause rhetoric in the South has helped lay the groundwork for much of Southern political and social culture up until the present day.
The imagery of Grant the butcher was a political manifestation designed to support the Lost Cause theory of the Civil War.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has begun a four day state visit to Washington DC, aiming to convince Americans that his country is not a lost cause.
This slipperiness is the "lost cause" of the book's title, an explicit acceptance of the fact that, for example, "stories of progress cannot account fully for ...
The sooner that Gordon Brown accepts that Afghanistan is a lost cause, as is Iraq, then the better for all concerned - not least the British nation.
In view of China's dash to embrace the worst aspects of capitalist development (short term planning, the dismal execution of building projects and wholescale razing of historic structures), this might seem like a laughably lost cause, but amid the hubris and chaos a number of talented young Chinese architects and urbanists are trying valiantly to nurture a sense of responsibility towards culture, society and the built environment.
While many major headlines bemoaned the recession, the newsletter's take went against the current: the economy wasn't a lost cause, and a recovery wasn't just wishful thinking.
Foster, Ghosts of the Confederacy: Defeat, the Lost Cause, and the Emergence of the New South (New York, 1987); and Charles Reagan Wilson, Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause, 1865-1920 (Athens, 1980), especially chapter 1.
Many have still not given up the lost cause of asserting that Iraq's new constitution will bring a wave of freedom for Iraqis and peoples across the Middle East.
A local newspaper wrote, "We regard the selection of a Federal Spy to manage our post-office as a deliberate insult to our people." As time went on and the mythology of the "Lost Cause" grew in the South, Van Lew became a recluse, shunned by her neighbors.
The great tragedy of the Vietnam War, we tell ourselves, was its waste--all those young American lives lost in a lost cause. But not even victory redeems every sacrifice, as Vietnamese novelist Duong Thu Huong shows in her tragic novel No Man's Land.
However, it's a lost cause. The French ruling elite are not prepared to save a colony they have no real interest in.
POET'S CORNER Our screams make you twitchy our activity scares your shoppers broken glass and a busted bench call the cops, third offense, lost board, not a lost cause. You hire a man to fix it up, metal knobs, gutted pavement another handrail molestation, Call the cops, $250 and confiscation, lost board, not a lost cause.
In varying degrees, we've all heard the gloomy statistics that often paint perceptions of the African American community, frequently deeming it a "lost cause." But it was precisely that view, and issues such as the lack of adequate healthcare and the prison and poverty rates, that prompted Vince Martin to get involved.
We looked down and out after the first half and, when Mallorca took the lead, it looked a lost cause. However, Bellamy's equaliser signalled a sensational turnaround and Mallorca didn't know what hit them.