the end justifies the means

the end justifies the means

wrong or unfair methods may be used if the overall goal is good

The Roman poet Ovid expresses this concept in Heroides as exitus acta probat meaning the outcome justifies the actions.


all ends up

completely – informal

1921 - A. W. Myers - Twenty Years of Lawn Tennis - Barrett beat him all ends up in an early round.

at the end of the day

when everything is taken into consideration - British informal

1995 - Jayne Miller - Voxpop - Today I've been giving out leaflets. You don't have to. But at the end of the day, it's worth it.

at the end of your tether

having no patience, resources or energy left to cope with something

A North American variant of this expression is at the end of your rope and in both cases the image is that of a grazing animal tethered on a rope that allows it a certain range in which to move but which at full stretch prohibits further movement.

at a loose end

having nothing to do

not knowing what to do

A North American variant of this expression is at loose ends.

be at your wits end

be overwhelmed with difficulties and at a loss as to what to do next

the beginning of the end

the event or development to which the conclusion or failure of something can be traced

1992 - H. Norman - Schwartzkopf - It Doesn't Take a Hero - I heard about D-Day on the radio. The announcer quoted Ohio governor John Bricker's now-famous line that this was the beginning of the end of the forces of evil.

be on the receiving end = be at the receiving end

be subjected to something unpleasant - informal

be thrown in at the deep end

face a difficult problem or undertaking with little experience of it – Informal

burn the candle at both ends

lavish energy or resources in more than one direction at the same time

go to bed late and get up early

the dirty end of the stick

the difficult or unpleasant part of a task or situation – informal

2000 - Sunday Times : Johannesburg - I still feel a bit sorry for Hugh, he always seems to get the dirty end of the stick.

end in tears

have an unhappy or unpleasant outcome (often used as a warning) – British

1992 - Iain Banks - The Crow Road - Well, let them get married. The earlier the better; it would end in tears. Let them rush into it, let them repent at leisure.

end it all

commit suicide

1993 - Ray Shell - iCED Quentin thought… he'd jump off the Brooklyn Bridge and make the papers. At least he'd end it all in a blaze of media glory.

the end of civilization as we know it

the complete collapse of ordered society

used to indicate that someone is being alarmist or is overreacting to a trivial inconvenience or blunder as if it were enormously significant and catastrophic

This expression is supposedly a cinematic cliché and was actually used in the film Citizen Kane (1941) : a project which would mean the end of civilization as we know it.

1999 - Select - The giant, dreadlocked rapper's third album contains extensive deliberations on the end of civilisation as we know it.

the end of the road = the end of the road line

the point beyond which progress or survival cannot continue

end of story

used to emphasize that there is nothing more to add on the subject just mentioned – informal

1998 – Times - Parents are role models. Footballers are picked for teams because they are good at football. End of story.

the end of the world

a complete disaster – informal

This expression comes from the idea of the termination of life on earth as the ultimate catastrophe, but is often used with the negative as a reassurance that a mistake or setback is not that important.

1994 - Face - If people are buying my records that's good. But if they're not it's not the end of the world.

get your end away = have your end away

have sex – British

vulgar slang

get the wrong end of the stick

misunderstand someone or something completely

go off the deep end

give way immediately to anger or emotion - informal

This expression refers to the deep end of a swimming pool where the diving board is located. In the USA the phrase has also developed the meaning go mad…but in either sense the underlying idea is of a sudden explosive loss of self-control.

keep your end up = keep hold your end up

perform well in a difficult or competitive situation – informal

make ends meet = make both ends meet

earn or have enough money to live on without getting into debt

1996 - Amitav Ghosh - The Calcutta Chromosome - Actually I think she's having trouble making ends meet, now that she's retired.

make his hair stand on end

alarm or horrify him

a means to an end

a thing that is not valued or important in itself but is useful in achieving an aim

End and means are compared or contrasted in several proverbial sayings…for example…
the end justifies the means and he who wills the end wills the means .

never hear the end of something = not hear the end of something

be continually reminded of an unpleasant topic or cause of annoyance

2002 - Observer - If it was Ireland or Wales we'd support them, but not England. It's a minority nations’ thing. If England was to win, we'd never hear the end of it.

no end

to a great extent

very much – informal

1984 - James Kelman - The Busconductor Hines - McCulloch gives him a go at the wheel at certain remote terminuses at specific times of the late night and early morning and his confidence grows no end.

no end of something

a vast number or amount of something – informal

1996 - Frank McCourt - Angela's Ashes - If I could have Mrs. Leibowitz and Minnie for mothers at the same time I'd have no end of soup and mashed potatoes.

the sharp end

the most important or influential part of an activity or process

the side of a system or activity which is the most unpleasant or suffers the chief impact

the bow of a ship – British humorous

the thin end of the wedge

an action or procedure of little importance in itself, but which is likely to lead to more serious developments – informal

to the bitter end

persevering to the end whatever the outcome

as the war to end all wars

something so impressive of its kind that nothing that follows will have the same impact – informal

The First World War was often referred to as the war to end all wars, from the mistaken belief that it would make all subsequent wars unnecessary.

1971 - Bessie Head – Maru - It was a wedding to end all weddings.

the end justifies the means :

the end justifies the means To HOME PAGE

Idioms Index – Previous Page

the end justifies the means - the end justifies the means - the end justifies the means - the end justifies the means - the end justifies the means