when the chips are down


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when the chips are down

Fig. at the final, critical moment; when things really get difficult. When the chips are down, I know that I can depend on Jean to help out. I knew you would come and help when the chips were down.
See also: chip, down

when the chips are down

When a situation is urgent or desperate, as in When the chips were down, all the children came home to help their mother. This expression comes from poker, where chips represent money being bet. When all the bets have been made, and the chips put down, the hand is over and the players turn up their cards to see who has won. [Late 1800s]
See also: chip, down

when the chips are down

COMMON If you talk about someone's behaviour when the chips are down, you mean how they behave in a difficult or dangerous situation. Note: In the following expressions `chips' are the coloured tokens or counters which are used to represent money in casinos. There will be no panic. We are at our best when the chips are down. When the chips are down, you do what you have to do. Note: You can also say the chips are down, meaning that a situation has just become difficult or dangerous. Manchester City face table-topping Newcastle today and the manager said: `The chips are down and it's time to show a bit of character.' Note: In a casino, the players lay their chips down on the table to make their bets.
See also: chip, down

when the chips are down

when you find yourself in a very serious and difficult situation. informal
Chips in this phrase, and in have had your chips above, are gambling chips.
See also: chip, down

when the chips are ˈdown

(informal) when the situation is urgent and action must be taken: Nobody wanted a war but when the chips were down and the enemy was ready to attack, everyone volunteered to defend their homeland.
This idiom refers to the use of chips (= small flat pieces of plastic) to represent money when gambling.
See also: chip, down

when the chips are down

At a critical or difficult time.
See also: chip, down
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