Have you ever heard someone say “that’s a bridge too far” and wondered what it meant? This common idiom is used to describe a situation that is beyond what is reasonable or possible. But where did this phrase come from, and how is it used in modern language? In this article, we will explore the history and meaning of the idiom “a bridge too far” and how it is used in everyday conversation.
A Bridge Too Far
What Does “A Bridge Too Far” Mean?
The Literal Meaning
The literal meaning of the phrase “a bridge too far” refers to an attempt to go beyond what is reasonable or possible. The phrase originated from a military operation during World War II, specifically the Battle of Arnhem in the Netherlands in 1944.
During the operation, Allied forces attempted to capture several key bridges in the Netherlands in order to gain a strategic advantage over the Germans. One of these bridges, the Arnhem bridge, was considered a crucial target. However, the distance between the Allied forces and the bridge was much further than anticipated, and the operation ultimately failed.
The Figurative Meaning
The figurative meaning of the idiom “a bridge too far” is a situation that is beyond what is reasonable or possible. It is often used to describe an attempt to do something that is overly ambitious or unrealistic.
For example, if someone says “trying to organize a conference in just one month is a bridge too far,” they are saying that it is not reasonable to try to plan such a large event in such a short amount of time.
The phrase can also be used to describe a situation in which a person or group has taken on more than they can handle. For example, if someone says “taking on two new clients at the same time was a bridge too far,” they are saying that they took on too much work and it was not reasonable or possible for them to manage it all.
In general, the figurative meaning of “a bridge too far” is used to describe a situation that is beyond what is reasonable or achievable. It is often used to caution against overreaching or taking on too much at once.
Example Sentences in Different Contexts
- She wanted to take on the project, but it was a bridge too far – there was simply too much work to be done in such a short amount of time.
- He wanted to propose to her, but it was a bridge too far – he wasn’t ready for such a big commitment yet.
- I wanted to apply for the promotion, but it was a bridge too far – I didn’t have the necessary experience.
- They wanted to expand the business, but it was a bridge too far – there wasn’t enough capital to support such a risky venture.
- She wanted to run the marathon, but it was a bridge too far – she wasn’t physically prepared for such a demanding race.
- The company’s expansion plans turned out to be a bridge too far, as they were unable to secure enough funding to sustain the growth.
- The team’s comeback effort fell short, as they found themselves a bridge too far behind their opponents in the final minutes of the game.
- Despite his best efforts, he realized that trying to repair the broken relationship was a bridge too far, and it was time to move on.
- The marathon was a bridge too far for the novice runner, and she had to drop out halfway through the race.
Synonyms for the Phrase “A Bridge Too Far”
There are many synonyms for the phrase “a bridge too far,” which can be used to convey similar ideas or to add variety to your writing or speech. Some possible synonyms for “a bridge too far” include:
- Too much to ask
- Too ambitious
- Too challenging
- Too difficult
- Too risky
- Too much of a stretch
- Beyond one’s abilities
- Beyond one’s resources
- A step too far
- A leap too great
- A mountain too high
Here are a few example sentences using some of these synonyms:
- The project turned out to be too ambitious for the small team, and they had to scale back their plans.
- The new product line was too challenging for the company to handle, and they ended up canceling the project.
- The marathon was too difficult for the novice runner, and she had to drop out halfway through the race.
- The company’s expansion plans were too risky, and they were unable to secure enough funding to sustain the growth.
- The mountain climb proved to be a step too far for the unprepared hikers, who had to turn back before reaching the summit.
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