on the ropes


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

on the ropes

1. In boxing, pinned against the ropes enclosing the boxing ring by one's opponent (a vulnerable position). The famed boxer was very boastful ahead of the exhibition match, but he spent nearly the whole fight on the ropes.
2. By extension, close to defeat or ruin. The company has been on the ropes following the disastrous release of their latest product. The newcomer has the incumbent on the ropes in the polls.
See also: on, rope

on the ropes

On the verge of defeat or collapse, helpless, as in They acknowledged that their campaign was on the ropes, and they could not possibly win the election . This expression, alluding to a boxer forced back to the ropes of the ring and leaning against them for support, has been used figuratively since the mid-1900s.
See also: on, rope

on the ropes

COMMON If a person or organization is on the ropes, they are very close to failing or being defeated. With the government on the ropes, the opposition should be miles ahead. Far fewer tourists are coming to this country and as a consequence, our hotel industry is on the ropes. Note: The image here is of a boxer who has been pushed back against the ropes around the edge of the ring.
See also: on, rope

on the ropes

in a desperate position; in a state of near collapse or defeat.
This is an idiom from boxing, alluding to the situation of a losing boxer who is forced back by his opponent against the ropes that mark the sides of the boxing ring. First recorded, in its literal sense, in the early 19th century, the phrase has been in figurative use since at least the 1920s.
See also: on, rope

on the ˈropes

(informal) very near to failure or defeat: The company is on the ropes; unless the bank extends their loan, they’re finished.
This idiom refers to a boxer that is against the ropes of a boxing ring.
See also: on, rope

on the ropes

1. Sports Knocked against the ropes that enclose a boxing ring.
2. On the verge of defeat or collapse; hopeless or powerless.
See also: on, rope