against all odds: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘against all odds’ mean?

The idiom "against all odds" means to accomplish something despite facing great difficulty or obstacles. It emphasizes the idea of achieving success or victory in a situation where the chances of it happening were strongly believed to be unlikely or impossible.

Idiom Explorer

Shattering Expectations

The idiom "against all odds" is a commonly used phrase that expresses the idea of accomplishing or achieving something despite facing numerous obstacles or difficulties. It is often associated with stories of triumph over adversity and has become a popular expression in various contexts.

This idiom originated in the mid-20th century and is derived from the word "odds," which refers to the chances or probabilities of a particular outcome. When something is described as being "against all odds," it implies that the likelihood of its occurrence was extremely low or unfavorable. This idiom highlights the resilience and determination required to overcome challenges and achieve success in difficult circumstances.

One notable example of the usage of this idiom can be found in the popular song "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" by Phil Collins, released in 1984. The song's lyrics convey the idea of a person defying the expectations and prevailing circumstances to win back their lost love. The phrase is also frequently seen in sports commentary, where it is used to describe unexpected victories or remarkable comebacks.

The idiom "against all odds" has become deeply ingrained in the English language, highlighting the human capacity to persevere despite unfavorable circumstances. It resonates with individuals who have faced hardships and challenges in their lives, offering them a sense of hope and inspiration. The enduring popularity of this expression underscores its cultural significance and its portrayal of the indomitable human spirit.

Etymology reveals the odds against her success.

This idiom can be related to several other idioms in the English language, such as "hope against hope," "in spite of," "against the world," and "fighting chance." These idioms share a common theme of defying the odds and persevering in the face of adversity.

The idiom "hope against hope" carries the idea of maintaining hope even when the chances of success are slim. It is about holding onto optimism and belief, despite the circumstances looking bleak. This relates to "against all odds" as it captures the determination to push forward, even when the likelihood of success seems minuscule.

The phrase "in spite of" signifies the ability to overcome obstacles or challenges regardless of their presence. It emphasizes a defiance against barriers and demonstrates resilience. When someone achieves something "against all odds," it often involves overcoming numerous hurdles, and the expression "in spite of" encapsulates that same spirit of prevailing against all obstacles.

"Against the world" is a phrase that conveys the idea of facing adversities and challenges head-on, disregarding external influences or opinions. It signifies a mindset of not allowing external factors to hinder one's goals or dreams. This relates to "against all odds" as it represents the determination to achieve success despite external pressures or doubts.

"Fighting chance" suggests the possibility of success even when the chances of winning or achieving a goal are slim. It highlights the importance of perseverance and putting up a fight, regardless of the odds. This relates to "against all odds" as it signifies the refusal to give up and the willingness to keep going, even when the chances of success seem slim.

The idiom "against all odds" holds a special place in the lexicon of idiomatic expressions. Its widespread use and symbolic significance have cemented its position in the English language. It serves as a reminder that despite the challenges we may encounter, it is possible to overcome adversity and achieve greatness. The power of this idiom lies in its ability to capture the essence of the human spirit and inspire individuals to persevere against all odds.

Example usage

Example 1: Despite facing numerous obstacles and challenges, Sarah was able to start her own successful business against all odds.

Example 2: Against all odds, the underdog team made an incredible comeback and won the championship.

Example 3: Tom's recovery from a severe illness was considered almost impossible, but he fought hard and survived against all odds.

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