Go For Broke – Meaning, Origin


Go for broke” is a phrase that means a person is attempting to do something, and if they fail, they risk losing everything.

Example: Wilma’s restaurant has done over the years but recently she’s noticed that her customer base has decreased. She is losing money because of it and if things continue like this, she will have to close up shop for good. So Wilma is planning to go for broke by renovating the restaurant’s interior and completely redoing the menu.
Synonyms / Related Phrases:
1. Bet the farm
2. Give it one’s all
3. Pull out all the stops
4. Swing for the fences
Go for broke, thrown dice

The Origin Of ‘Go For Broke’

The expression go for broke is believed to come from the dice game “craps.” According to Wiktionary, this phrase is actually slang from Hawaiian Pidgin craps. This game might be played at casinos and those playing have the option of wagering everything (that is, all of their chips) on a single dice roll. This is a risky move however, because a bad roll could result in them losing all of their money/chips. In other words, it would leave them broke.

So that is the origin story for this phrase. However, something else of note is a 1951 movie called “Go for Broke!” The phrase does not originate from this movie because it existed before the movie’s release. For example, it appears in print more than a decade earlier in the newspaper The Richmond River Herald and Northern Districts Advertiser, July 1935:

“‚Ķdecided to do things properly, and their favorite contractor was told to go for broke, as the saying is, and to do the place over from caves to basement.

While the phrase did not originate from the movie, the film may have helped popularize the term.

Sentence Examples

  • There’s a few minutes left in this basketball game and my team is down 10 points. They will have to go for broke if they want a shot at winning.

Related Examples:

  • We have some special guests coming over for dinner, so I’m gonna give it my all and cook my best dish!
  • Rick could really use the money from this dancing competition, so he’ll be swinging for the fences the whole way through.
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