sheet anchor

Nautical. a large anchor used only in cases of emergency.
a final reliance or resource, as when in danger.

1485–95 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
sheet anchor
1.  nautical a large strong anchor for use in emergency
2.  a person or thing to be relied upon in an emergency
[C17: from earlier shute anker, from shoot (obsolete) the sheet of a sail]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Example sentences
The sheet anchor is the largest and heaviest of all.
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