What does the idiom "have no option but" mean?

The phrase have no option but is often used in English, but what does this idiom mean? When idioms are used in the right situations, they strengthen communication and enrich the language. You can communicate more effectively by learning the meaning of have no option but.

Meaning of "have no option but"


The idiom ‘have no option but’ is used to describe a situation in which there is no other viable alternative available. In other words, when things are out of one’s control, the only course of action available is the one being suggested in the phrase, and there is no other way around it. It emphasizes that a particular action is necessary, regardless of what the person would like to do.


The phrase ‘have no option but’ is believed to have originated in the mid-1800’s and was first seen in print in the novel Bleak House by Charles Dickens. In the novel, the narrator uses the phrase in the context of being unable to choose a course of action due to being forced into a certain situation against his will.

Since then, the phrase has been used as a way to express an inability to do something without considering any other option. The phrase can be found in many other works of literature, including the Bible, and is still used today to express the same underlying sentiment.


‘Have no option but’ is commonly used to indicate that a particular course of action is necessary, even if one would not prefer to do it or if it appears risky. It suggests that a person has very limited choices and that they must take whatever action is necessary even if they don’t want to. This phrase can be used to describe any situation in which there is no other available choice, including work or personal matters.

The phrase can also be used to contrast one’s current situation with the alternatives that exist. For example, a person might say, “I have no option but to accept this job offer, since there are no other offers available.” This emphasizes that a person has exhausted all other possible alternatives and must reluctantly accept what is offered to them.

Example Sentences

  • I have no option but to take this train if I want to get to my destination on time.
  • We have no option but to accept the terms of the contract if we want to keep our business running.

The meanings of the words in the "have no option but" idiom

The Global Spread of English Idioms

As English has become a global language, its idioms have spread far beyond the borders of the UK and USA. For instance, the idiom "beat around the bush" has equivalents in many other languages, such as "tourner autour du pot" in French and "dar vueltas al asunto" in Spanish. Meanwhile, other idioms have been adapted for local contexts, such as the Russian idiom "?? ???? ???????" (ne svoya rubashka), which translates to "not one's own shirt," meaning to be in an uncomfortable or unfamiliar situation.


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