Idiom:  one’s back against the wall

A young woman standing with her back against the wall with her hands handcuffed in front: I made some very poor decisions when my back was against the wall and learned some valuable lessons.


Idiom:  with you back against the wall

  • in a difficult situation without many options

Example sentences

— I wish I could help you, but my back is against the wall because I don’t get paid for two more weeks.

— After failing three quizzes, my son's back is against the wall and he's got to pass all of the rest of them.

— I feel like my back is against the wall because my boss wants me to work several evenings during the week and my wife needs me at home to help out with the kids.

— Our back is against the wall right now with two children in college so my husband and I don't feel like I can quit this job any time soon.

— You say your back is against the wall but just remember that you do have alternatives but you're afraid to make difficult choices.

— I used to say my back was against the wall and I couldn't get divorced but I learned I could survive after my wife left me.

— Even when my back was against the wall and I had  $150,000 in student loans to pay, I never asked my parents for help and worked two jobs for 7 years.

— My client's not proud of what she did but her back was against the wall and she got married for security not for love.

— Don't judge her actions so harshly. Her back was against the wall and she did the best she could under the circumstances.

— You need to wait until your back isn't against the wall or you may make a decision that you'll regret for the rest of your life.


  • up the creek
  • at the end of one's rope
  • hard up
  • back to the wall

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