What does the idiom "flat broke" mean?

You are wondering about the meaning of the phrase flat broke, maybe you heard it in a TV show, movie or theater play. Although this idiom is not used very often, it enriches your capacity of expression and strengthens communication. In which case is the expression flat broke used and what is its meaning?

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

Idioms with similar meanings in different languages

"Barking up the wrong tree" is an English idiom that means to pursue a mistaken or misguided course of action. In German, the similar idiom is "Auf dem Holzweg sein," which translates to "To be on the wrong track." This idiom emphasizes the idea that when you are pursuing the wrong course of action, you are not going to achieve your desired outcome.


No comment has been written about flat broke yet, you can write the first comment and share your thoughts with our other visitors.
Leave a Reply