Military origin of words: Forlorn hope

Posted: February 4, 2009 in Military

This expression means ‘vain hope’, or an undertaking with little chance of success and it is a good example of how a term in one language can become mistranslated in another, because of a confusion or words with similar sounds.

The English term ‘forlorn hope’ originated in Dutch as ‘verlore hoop’ (the lost troop), the term used for a body of troops that led the first wave of an attack, or who were the first to throw themselves into a breach made in a defensive fortification.

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