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[last-ditch, lahst-] /ˈlæstˈdɪttʃ, ˈlɑst-/
done finally in desperation to avoid defeat, failure, disaster, etc.:
a last-ditch attempt to avert war.
fought with every resource at one's command:
a last-ditch battle for the pennant.
Origin of last-ditch
1905-10; last1 + ditch
Related forms
last-ditcher, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for last-ditch
  • But the more serious threat comes from semiautonomous machines over which humans retain nothing more than last-ditch veto power.
  • He knows the smell of me and he's going to make a last-ditch try to get you back.
  • Several panel members attended a last-ditch meeting at mid-day.
  • Or as a last-ditch effort after trying everything modern medicine has to offer.
  • On the one hand are gastroenterologists, who are trained to rely on medicines and may consider surgery a last-ditch effort.
  • National bankruptcy looms and last-ditch attempts to avert it are stalled by partisan infighting.
  • His doctors continued to throw one last-ditch treatment after another at him.
  • All that remains to be discussed is the videodisc dimension, the last-ditch resort of an art in retreat.
  • Searching may be their last-ditch effort to complete a task.
  • As a last-ditch effort, the village incorporated into a municipality.
British Dictionary definitions for last-ditch


(modifier) made or done as a last desperate attempt or effort in the face of opposition
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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Word Origin and History for last-ditch

"on the last line of defense," 1715, attributed to William of Orange; if so, originally in a Dutch context.

We have no space to enter into the detail of the heroic struggle maintained by the young stadtholder and his faithful Dutchmen; how they laid their country under water, and successfully kept the powerful invader at bay. Once the contest seemed utterly hopeless. William was advised to compromise the matter, and yield up Holland as the conquest of Louis XIV. "No," replied he; "I mean to die in the last ditch." A speech alone sufficient to render his memory immortal. [Agnes Strickland, "Lives of the Queens of England," London, 1847]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for last-ditch



Ultimate; final and heroic: They pumped themselves up for a last-ditch effort

[1940s+; fr earlier last-ditcher, ultimately fr die in the last ditch, ''die at the last defense line,'' found by 1715 and attributed to William of Orange]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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