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forlorn hope

noun
1.
a perilous or desperate enterprise.
2.
a vain hope.
3.
Obsolete. a group of soldiers assigned to perform some unusually dangerous service.
Origin
1530-1540
1530-40; folk-etymological alteration of Dutch verloren hoop literally, lost troop
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for forlorn hope

forlorn hope

noun
1.
a hopeless or desperate enterprise
2.
a faint hope
3.
(obsolete) a group of soldiers assigned to an extremely dangerous duty
Word Origin
C16 (in the obsolete sense): changed (by folk etymology) from Dutch verloren hoop lost troop, from verloren, past participle of verliezen to lose + hoop troop (literally: heap)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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