What does the idiom "go by the board" mean?

go by the board is an idiom used by many writers. When idioms are used in the right place, they open the doors of effective communication and increase your descriptive power. In this way, you will be better understood. The meaning of the expression go by the board is also remarkable in this respect.

Meaning of "go by the board"


The idiom “go by the board” generally means to be discarded or abandoned. It originates from the nautical term of the same name which was used centuries ago to describe a type of emergency salvage operation. In sailing, the term was used to describe when a ship’s crew cut away a part of the mast or rigging that had become damaged and was in danger of sinking the ship.


The phrase “go by the board” is thought to have first been used in a nautical context in the early 19th century. It likely originates from when a captain would order a part of the mast to be cut away from the ship to prevent it from sinking. The phrase was later adopted by land-based English speakers in the mid 19th century, to refer to any action of discarding or abandoning something.


The phrase “go by the board” is most commonly used in the context of discarding or abandoning ideas, plans, or strategies. It can also refer to people who have been dismissed from their position or job. Generally, the phrase implies that something is no longer considered valuable or viable.

Example Sentences

  • The prime minister decided that the plan had to go by the board and they started fresh with a new proposal.
  • After the scandal broke, all of his policies went by the board.
  • The board of directors had to go by the board in order to bring in a new leadership team.

The meanings of the words in the "go by the board" idiom

Beyond the Literal: Figurative Language in Idioms

Idioms often use figurative language to convey a message that is not meant to be taken literally. For instance, the idiom "bite the bullet" means to endure a painful or difficult situation without complaint, while "hold your horses" means to be patient and wait. Other idioms, like "kick the bucket" or "pop your clogs," use euphemisms to talk about death.


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