It is about

someone who is in a very difficult situation, and who will take any available opportunity to improve it

An example:

Facing the possibility that his marriage might be over, John began visiting psychics to help him decide what to do. A drowning man will clutch at a straw.

I have checked on the internet but couldn't find one. Do you know any?

  • 1
    Hello. It'd better if you provide an example of usage of this idiom and what is its meaning.
    – Dimitris
    Jun 21, 2020 at 12:19
  • 1
    i have added the meaning.
    – MoonHorse
    Jun 21, 2020 at 12:22
  • 1
    Could you please also provide an example of usage in, e.g., a possible dialogue? I.e. give some context. I'm sure that native speakers will find a French idiom conveying the meaning (not necessarily a one-to-one).
    – Dimitris
    Jun 21, 2020 at 12:23

1 Answer 1


No native speaker of French and English. According to: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/a_drowning_man_will_clutch_at_a_straw

"a drowning man will clutch at a straw"

has an equivalent shorter version

"grasp at straws".

According to https://www.linguee.fr/anglais-francais/traduction/grasping+at+straws.html one gets some ways to convey the desired meaning in French (not necessarily the Metropolitan French) such as:

It is total grasping at straws. On fait flèche de tout bois.

Or are we clutching at straws here? Ou parlons-nous à tort et à travers ?

and so on.

According to https://dictionnaire.reverso.net/anglais-francais/grasping+at+straws one may also use:

se raccrocher aux branches


I mean, they must be really grasping at straws. Ils doivent vraiment se raccrocher aux branches.





(Thanks to native speaker @Pas un clue).

'Se raccrocher aux branches'

is an option. In the exact contexte, one may use

«on tente de se raccrocher à n'importe quelle branche»;


«...à n'importe quoi»;

but it's not as colorful as the original English idiom. A couple of examples of usage in French: 1; 2. A literal translation from English to French is provided here. The image may not be customary in French, but very understandable nonetheless.


(Thanks to native speaker @Personne)

Another way to convey the same meaning:

Se donner au premier saint venu.

  • Entendu, mais sans référence écrite dans ngram : « Se donner au premier saint venu »
    – Personne
    Jun 22, 2020 at 9:31

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