fight to the bitter end

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fight to the bitter end

To continue to struggle or endeavor until the final or most critical extremity, such as death or total defeat. We might not have a chance of winning today, but we have to fight to the bitter end! My poor mother fought to the bitter end, but the cancer ultimately overpowered her.
See also: bitter, end, fight, to
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

bitter end, (fight) to the

The last extremity, the conclusion of a tough battle or other difficult situation. The term comes from seamanship, where “the bitter end” is that part of the chain or anchor cable that is secured inside the vessel and is seldom used. It is so described in Captain Smith’s Seaman’s Grammar of 1627: “A bitter is but the turne of a Cable about the bitts, and veare it out by little and little. And the Bitter’s end is that part of the Cable doth stay within board.” It was sometimes spelled better; Daniel Defoe, in Robinson Crusoe (1719), described a terrible storm, saying, “We rode with two anchors ahead, and the cables veered out to the better end.” A much earlier version is found in Chaucer’s The Squire’s Tale: “They demen gladly to the badder ende” (translated by the Reverend Walter W. Skeat as “worse end”).
See also: bitter, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer