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What is the meaning of "the straw that broke the camel's back"?

(A. Vara Prasad, Tuni, AP)

When you say that something is the straw that broke the camel's back, what you are implying is that you have reached the limit of your patience; that you are not willing to put up with any more nonsense. You have been patient and tolerant for a very long time, but now your patience has run out; you are unwilling to put up with your present situation. You have had a string of problems, and this final one has left you extremely angry. Here are a few examples.

*Sriram is always late for office. On Friday he failed to meet an important client. That was the straw that broke the camel's back. The boss fired him.

*Malathi has always been rude to me. But what she said today was the straw that broke the camel's back. I am going to complain against her.

It is also possible to say ''the last straw''. For example,

*When he broke the window for the third time, it was the last straw.

*When Shyam didn't bother to come for the family get together, it was the last straw.

There is a limit as to the amount of straw that any animal can carry. A camel, for example, can carry a certain amount on its back. If you keep adding to the amount, then the animal will become overloaded. That final straw which makes it impossible for the animal to carry any more is the straw that breaks the camel's back. The idiom has been in use since the mid 1800s. The expression that was in use earlier was "The last feather that breaks the horse's back''.

S. Upendran

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