the last straw
the last straw
Meaning | Synonyms
- to be the last in a sequence of unpleasant things
- to be the last tolerable thing after which something cannot be accepted
- The last straw in their relationship was when he physically abused her. She walked out after that.
- I am not going to wait for the last straw like you always do. I will do something about the problem much sooner than that.
- It is sad to see that people always wait until the last straw before they start to take any action in this country.
- The politician did not see the last straw He did not order any probe before this and now the police are struggling with the investigation.
- The lawyer explained how this was the fight between them was the last straw before the accused mercilessly murdered the victim.
This is the shortened version of the phrase "the last straw that broke the camel's back." The phrase has been used since the mid 1700s. The phrase has had many variations over the years. There is an earlier phrase dating back to the 1800s that states "the last feather breaks the horse's back."
The earliest example of the idiom can be found in The Edinburgh Advertiser, from May 1816:
"yet straw upon straw was laid till the last straw broke the camel's back."
Before modern forms of transport people used animals to transport their goods. There is a story that tells of a rich man that used camels to transport his straw. He would load as much straw as he could on them in order to get the most out of the animals. One day he proceeded to load one last piece of straw onto the camel’s back and the camel collapsed. His back had broken and the man was unable to move any straw. This may just be a story, but it clearly proves the origin of this particular phrase.
Even though the wording of the phrase has changed over the years, the meaning has remained the same.