What does the idiom "flat broke" mean?

Idioms are generally defined as groups of words that form a meaningful whole when they come together, even though the words in them do not make sense on their own. They have produced many idioms according to their own cultural characteristics in communities using the English language. What does flat broke mean? In what situations is flat broke used?

Meaning of "flat broke"


The phrase 'flat broke' means to be completely without money, or be in a financially destitute state.


The term 'flat broke' is believed to have originated in early 20th century American English. It is thought to come from the long-standing phrase 'flat busted', which was used to describe someone who was so broke that they had been reduced to begging or borrowing money. The main difference between 'flat busted' and 'flat broke' is that the latter is used more commonly and is less offensive.


The phrase 'flat broke' can be used both literally and figuratively. It is used to communicate that someone is in a dire financial situation and has exhausted or has no money left. It is also used in a more figurative sense to express a feeling of financial helplessness or being completely out of options. The phrase can also be used as a humorous way to express a lack of funds.

Example Sentences

  • I'm so flat broke that I had to borrow money from my parents just to buy groceries.
  • After I got laid off, I was flat broke for months until I found a new job.
  • I had a great time on vacation but now I'm completely flat broke.

The meanings of the words in the "flat broke" idiom

The power of idioms transcends languages!

"Putting the cart before the horse" is an English idiom that means doing things in the wrong order. In Russian, the similar idiom is "Кладёт колесо впереди лошади," which translates to "Putting the cart before the horse." This idiom emphasizes the idea that doing things in the wrong order can lead to confusion and problems down the line.


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