forlorn hope

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:
1530–40; folk-etymological alteration of Dutch verloren hoop literally, lost troop

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forlorn hope
 
n
1.  a hopeless or desperate enterprise
2.  a faint hope
3.  obsolete a group of soldiers assigned to an extremely dangerous duty
 
[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)]

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