On the Brink

There’s an article in the BBC business news today that caught my eye because it has three really interesting expressions in it. The first is in the title:

Major US lender ‘on the brink

In this situation ‘on the brink’ means that something, probably bad is about to happen. From the rest of the article, we could assume the bank is ‘on the brink of bankruptcy’ or ‘on the brink of disaster’.

The next two phrases come together in the first paragraph:

Days of talks on a possible last-ditch bail-out between the US government and troubled New York-based lender CIT Group Inc have come to an end.

‘Last-ditch’ is an interesting expression with military origins. In a military sense, the ‘last ditch’ is the final line of defences an army has from attack. When we use it in speech, it is usually as a compound adjective and is often seen with the word ‘effort’ or ‘attempt’ so a ‘last-ditch effort’ would be a final effort using all the resources available to you.

‘Bail out’ is usually seen as a phrasal verb meaning to help a person or group of people who are in a difficult situation. In the example above, a ‘bail-out’ is a compound noun and means the package of financial aid given to the organisation in trouble.

Have you ever had to bail a friend out?

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