Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Last Straw: An Expression That's In the News

Do you have a Facebook account? Do you use Facebook? Did you ever use the "Download Your Information" function?

Several scandals have occurred recently over Facebook: but more recently the very serious The Cambridge Analytica misuse of user information had global repercussions.

Many of the over 6 million worldwide Facebook users consider this Cambridge Analytica data breach to be "the last straw."  The expression is as widespread as it is old.

For Many Facebook Users, a ‘Last Straw’ That Led Them to Quit

 In this article, Dan Clark, a retired Navy veteran from Maine, is quoted as saying, “But you have to stand for something, so I just put my foot down and said enough is enough.”

What did Ben Greenzweig, from Westchester, New York, decided to do?

"The final straw" is another version of this expression.

Roy Moore is the last straw, you can now call me a Democrat

USA Today piece is an OPINION piece, but it expresses the writer's own "last straw." What happened, how did he feel about it, and what did he do about that?

This expression comes from a larger expression, "the straw that broke the camel's back." 

But enough for politics. The expression can be used in ones personal life too.

19 Divorced People Answer 'What Was the Final Straw?'

Some of these "final straw" or "last straw" moments are pretty shocking.

The earliest known expression dates from 1677. And it uses feathers, which appear to be light and weightless: "It is the last feather that breaks the horse's back" is from Archbishop Bramhall, Works 4:59. 

Why are feathers, and straw, and appropriate expression for this sentiment?

Have you ever had a personal "last straw" moment, a moment that makes the situation impossible to tolerate and go along with any longer? A moment that calls for change?

Meanwhile, go easy on your horses and camels! 

1 as quoted in George Latimer Apperson, English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases: A Historical Dictionary (1929), reissued as The Wordsworth Dictionary of Proverbs

Photo of camel By Bart de Goeij (IMG_1725) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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