In a recent conversation with my husband the phrase “grasping at straws” popped up. Which lead to the question, where did this term come from? We were literally grasping at straws trying to figure out the origins of the term,”grasping at straws.”
This led me to an online search. Here’s what I learned:
The etymology of this phrase comes originally from Thomas More in his work Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation (1534). The idiom refers to a drowning man grasping for anything, even a straw, to save his life. In today’s world it has come to mean to act or make a decision, usually in desperation, without enough information or resources.
Variations include: clutching at straws, grasp at straws, clutch at straws, etc.
Wiktionary: Grasp at Straw – best definition and sourcing of the term among the many sites I checked.