rough patch: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘rough patch’ mean?

The idiom *rough patch* refers to a difficult or challenging period of time in someone's life or a situation. It implies that things are not going well and there are obstacles or problems to overcome.

Idiom Explorer


Rough patch is an idiom that describes a difficult period in someone's life or a challenging time for a relationship, organization, or project.

One possible origin of the idiom "rough patch" is related to the world of sailing. In sailing, sailors often encounter patches of rough water or rough seas that make navigation challenging and unpredictable.

The idiom "rough patch" can be used to describe tough going. It signifies a period when things are not going smoothly and require effort and perseverance to overcome.

Another related idiom is "out of fix". When someone is going through a rough patch, they may feel like they are out of fix, meaning they are experiencing difficulties or problems that need to be addressed.

Overcoming setbacks is vital for personal growth.

life's a bitch is another idiom that can be related to a rough patch. This phrase emphasizes the challenging or difficult nature of the period. It suggests that life is not always easy and can be filled with hardships and obstacles.

When someone is going through a rough patch, they might be described as rough around the edges. This means that they may not be at their best or most polished during this period. It acknowledges that they may be struggling and acknowledges their imperfections.

On the other hand, someone who is rough and ready during a rough patch is characterized by being prepared and capable of handling the challenges that come their way. This term suggests that the person is skilled and adaptable, despite the difficult circumstances.

Usage of the idiom "rough patch" is not limited to any particular social group or age range. It is used by people of various ages and backgrounds to describe difficult periods in their lives or relationships. This broad usage indicates the idiom's flexibility and applicability in different contexts.

While the specific origins of idioms can sometimes be elusive, the idiom "rough patch" is widely recognized and used by English speakers. It is a vivid and concise way to express the concept of overcoming challenging periods in life or relationships. The idiom evokes a sense of temporary struggle while leaving room for the possibility of improvement and resolution.

Its widespread usage indicates its continued relevance in contemporary English and its enduring ability to capture the complexities of human experience.

Example usage

Examples of how to use the idiom 'rough patch' in a sentence:

  1. After losing his job, John went through a rough patch where he struggled with his finances and emotional well-being.
  2. The couple's relationship hit a rough patch when they started having constant arguments and disagreements.
  3. During the recession, many businesses went through a rough patch and had to downsize or close down.

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