forlorn hope


Also found in: Thesaurus, Legal, Idioms, Wikipedia.

forlorn hope

n.
1. An arduous or nearly hopeless undertaking.
2. An advance guard of troops sent on a hazardous mission.

[By folk etymology from Dutch verloren hoop, advance guard : verloren, past participle of verliezen, to lose; see leu- in Indo-European roots + hoop, troop.]

forlorn hope

n
1. a hopeless or desperate enterprise
2. a faint hope
3. (Military) obsolete a group of soldiers assigned to an extremely dangerous duty
[C16 (in the obsolete sense): changed (by folk etymology) from Dutch verloren hoop lost troop, from verloren, past participle of verliezen to lose + hoop troop (literally: heap)]

forlorn′ hope′


n.
1. a perilous or desperate enterprise.
2. a vain hope.
3. Obs. a group of soldiers assigned to perform some unusually dangerous service.
[1530–40]
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.forlorn hope - a hopeless or desperate enterprise
endeavor, endeavour, enterprise - a purposeful or industrious undertaking (especially one that requires effort or boldness); "he had doubts about the whole enterprise"
References in classic literature ?
The unhappy lad who led the forlorn hope of the company, in the person of "Sir Anth ony Absolute," expressed the age and irascibility of his character by tottering incessantly at the knees, and thumping the stage perpetually with his stick.
There is one chance," she answered, "a sort of forlorn hope, but you might try it.
The feel of the long spear shaft in his hand and the sight of the tree beyond the lion gave the lad an idea--a preposterous idea--a ridiculous, forlorn hope of an idea; but there was no time now to weigh chances--there was but a single chance, and that was the thorn tree.
I do not forget them," replied Carthoris, but he did not tell Jav that he remembered something else that the Lotharian had let drop--something that was but a conjecture, possibly, and yet one well worth pinning a forlorn hope to, should necessity arise.
The three composing our forlorn hope were deliberating whether they should proceed any further, when all at once a circle of smoke enveloped the giant of stone, and a dozen balls came whistling around D'Artagnan and his companions.
Part of the next morning was consumed in inquiries at every house in the town from which a coach started--(all in vain, for you know Hetty did not start from Stonition by coach, but on foot in the grey morning)--and then in walking out to the first toll-gates on the different lines of road, in the forlorn hope of finding some recollection of her there.
There was but one forlorn hope for us, and I took it.
But no heroes, returning from a forlorn hope, could have had a warmer welcome from their comrades.
Miss Ingram rose solemnly: "I go first," she said, in a tone which might have befitted the leader of a forlorn hope, mounting a breach in the van of his men.
To do so meant changing a well-ordered advance into a forlorn hope.
At any rate it is only upon this hypothesis that I can account for his next act, which was in the nature of a last resort--a sort of forlorn hope, which could only have been born of the belief that if he did not kill me quickly I should kill him.
The vanguard--the forlorn hope of the great plot," he commented to himself.