on the beam's ends

beam-ends

[beem-endz]
plural noun
1.
Nautical. the ends of the transverse deck beams of a vessel.
Idioms
2.
on her beam-ends, Nautical. heeled so far on one side that the deck is practically vertical: The schooner was blown over on her beam-ends.
3.
on one's/the beam-ends, Slang. in desperate straits, especially financial straits. Also, on the beam's ends.

Origin:
1765–75

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
beam-ends
 
pl n
1.  the ends of a vessel's beams
2.  on her beam-ends (of a vessel) heeled over through an angle of 90°
3.  on one's beam-ends
 a.  out of resources; destitute
 b.  desperate

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