do or die

do or die


  • a situation in which you must take a big risk in order to avoid failure
  • requiring supreme effort to avoid the dire consequences of failure
  • to try to achieve a goal or fail making the effort
  • involving a determined and sometimes reckless effort to succeed
  • reflecting or characterized by an irrevocable decision to succeed at all costs
  • a situation that is extremely important, and failure would result in a big problem

Example Sentences

  1. A do-or-die attempt to halt the invaders.
  2. Exams are near it’s do or die people.
  3. On Wednesday, it’s do or die in the Cricket match against Australia.
  4. When Quentin had to give a presentation to some new clients, his boss warned him that it would be a do or die situation.
  5. Well, I guess it is do-or-die so decide if you really want to join our team.
  6. He was in a do-or-die situation to the bitter end.
  7. A do-or-die situation
  8. I am working hard to defeat my competitor and to win I have to do or die.
  9. When I was lost in desert, it was a do or die situation for me to survive.


Scotland, present since 1875-80.

The term “do or die” comes from Robert Burns’ poem “Robert Bruce’s March to Bannockburn” which was a poem about the first War of Scottish Independence. The last stanza of the poem reads:

“Lay the profound Usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty’s in every blow!
Let us Do-or-Die!”

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D 5 Thoughts

5 Thoughts

Sounds like do or die “morphed” over time from the Latin “do it des”

Merriam-Webster: do ut des p, noun
\ ˌdōˌu̇tˈdās \
Definition of do ut des
: a commutative contract whereby something is given so that something may be received in return

- JM March 15, 2021

I knew of the line in “Bruce’s Address” by Burns and wondered if it had been invented earlier.
I am quite fond of Tennyson, but not of his approval of the “Charge of the Light Brigade” I prefer the opinion quoted, or alleged by the account of the mastermind of “The Great Train Robbery” that although he had stolen gold intended for the Crimean War, he had not by his stupidity caused the slaughter of os many god Englishmen.

- Albert John Rogers March 8, 2021

Dave Johnson thinks that Robert Burns may have “got the phrase” from Tennyson’s poem of 1854, but I don’t think so because Robert Burns died in 1796.

- Derek Smith, Scotland May 12, 2019

Perhaps “do or die” originates from a Robert Burns poem in 1875-80 as your website indicates, but I wonder. In Tennyson’s 1854 poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade” there is a line “Theirs but to do and die”. My guess is that Burns got the phrase from Tennyson and changed it slightly. and that perhaps it was already in common use verbally when Tennyson used it.

- Dave Johnson January 21, 2019

Do or die is a sentence? I like to know, what is it Types?

- Shahid Hasan Khan April 10, 2016

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