shoot the moon

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shoot the moon

1. In the card game hearts, to take every point possible. This is accomplished by having every heart and the queen of spades in one's hand by the end of the round. (Normally, being in possession of hearts or the queen of spades is something you want to avoid, as these cards earn you points, and the player with the highest number of points at the end of the game loses. But if you risk it and end up successfully "shooting the moon," points are either removed from your score or added to other players' scores.) Gosh, that's the third time you've shot the moon! I'm not playing hearts against you anymore!
2. In the card game pinochle, to take every trick possible (something that you normally want to avoid) in order to be awarded a bonus of 25 points. I was so close to shooting the moon, but I missed the last trick in the game!
3. To achieve the greatest possible success, especially as a result of a gamble or risky maneuver. Many novice investors try to shoot the moon as soon as they begin by purchasing hugely risky stock options that end up performing very poorly. It's clear that the company tried to shoot the moon with their new intellectual property, creating simultaneous film, television, video game, and action figure releases to capture every corner of the market at once.
See also: moon, shoot
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

shoot the moon

Leave without paying one’s bill; also, go for broke in card playing. The first usage dates from the first half of the 1800s and alludes to leaving in the dark of night (by moonlight). Richard Wheland had it in Robert Capa (1985), “They would occupy a hotel room for a few weeks, until they had stretched to the limit their excuses for not paying, then ‘shoot the moon’ and move on to new quarters.” The second usage alludes to the card game of hearts, in which players lose points for every heart they hold at the end of the game. But in one version, a player dealt the right cards can “shoot the moon,” that is, try to take all the hearts for a bonus. Here the phrase means to risk everything for the ultimate prize.
See also: moon, shoot
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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