Learn English – What does “on a hiding to nothing” mean


I watched a movie with English actors just the other day and came across this phrase in the dialogue. What does it mean, and who would typically use it?

What is the sense of the hide in hiding? How does it contribute to the meaning of the idiom?

Best Answer

As other answers have pointed out, it refers to a situation in which it's pointless to try because it's impossible to win: either you're going to get a hiding, that is, take a (metaphorical) beating on your hide, or else...nothing. There is nothing else. You're going to lose, and you're probably going to lose so badly that your opponent is going to gain nothing from beating you.