Go For Broke – Meaning, Origin


Go for broke” is a phrase that means a person is putting forth effort to accomplish something, and there is an implied risk that if things go wrong, the person might experience loss in some way.

Example: Maria’s restaurant has done well over the years, but her customer base has dried up recently. As a result, she’s been losing money at a steady pace and if things don’t improve soon, Maria will have to close up shop for good. So she is going for broke in one final attempt to save her business; she plans to completely renovate the restaurant’s interior.

1. Bet the farm
2. Give it your all
3. Pull out all the stops
4. Swing for the fences

Go for broke, thrown dice
Talaj – stock.adobe.com.

The Origin Of ‘Go For Broke’

Where does this expression come from? The idiom go for broke is believed to originate 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:

“…decided 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

  • I’m gonna go for broke in my chess match tomorrow and hope for the best; I don’t think my opponent will be ready for my opening moves.

Similar Examples:

  • We have some special guests coming over for dinner, so I’m gonna give it my all and cook my best dish!
  • Rick is trying his best to find a job; he’s swinging for the fences, so I’m confident that he will find one soon.

Tip: This website has the meaning and origin of many phrases. How can you find them, you ask? Simply use the menu at the top; it makes finding all the idioms on Know Your Phrase a breeze.