What does the idiom "as a last resort" mean?

Although the meanings of the words in them do not make any sense when examined one by one, the word groups that are shaped according to the cultural roots of the language and that make sense as a whole are called idioms. as a last resort meaning, in what situations is it used?

Meaning of "as a last resort"


The phrase ‘as a last resort’ is an idiom which generally means ‘in the final instance’ or ‘only when all other options have been exhausted’. This phrase implies that all other attempts to resolve a situation have failed, leaving the individual or entity with no other alternative than to take desperate measures or risk the unknown.


The phrase ‘as a last resort’ first appeared in English in the 16th century, a time in which it was used to describe the ultimate act of desperation. The phrase itself is derived from the Middle English term ‘resort’, which was used to mean ‘a place to go for help’. The phrase has since evolved to be used in contexts in which the speaker has reached the end of the line and is being forced to take riskier measures.


The phrase ‘as a last resort’ is commonly used in both spoken and written English, although it is more often used in spoken English. It is usually used when the speaker is trying to explain that they have exhausted all other possible options and are now being forced to take action which they are not entirely comfortable with. It is also used to emphasize that something should only be done as a last resort and not due to laziness.

Example Sentences

  • We tried every other option, but as a last resort, we had to take out a loan to cover the cost.
  • My doctor only recommended surgery as a last resort, when all other treatments had failed.
  • I know you don't want to move, but it might be something you have to consider as a last resort.
  • If the negotiations fail, we might have to take legal action as a last resort.

The meanings of the words in the "as a last resort" idiom

From One Language to Another: Idioms in Translation

Translating idioms from one language to another can be a tricky task, as the cultural context behind an idiom can be difficult to capture. For example, the French phrase "avoir le cafard" translates to "to have the cockroach," which means to feel down or depressed. Similarly, the Chinese idiom "????" (j?ng d? zh? w?) translates to "frog at the bottom of a well," which refers to someone with a narrow view of the world.


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