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cupboard is bare, the

The desired resources are not available, as in The schools are asking for a budget increase but the cupboard is bare. This metaphoric expression may have come from the nursery rhyme: “Old Mother Hubbard, went to the cupboard, to fetch her poor dog a bone, And when she went there, the cupboard was bare, and so the poor dog had none” (Sarah Catherine Martin, The Comic Adventures of Old Mother Hubbard, 1805).
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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