at a loss for choice

Hi, I find this at a loss for choice in the following passage hard to understand.

On the discussion being renewed, “Gentlemen,” said Barbicane, “we must now take into consideration the metal to be employed. Our cannon must be possessed of great tenacity, great hardness, be infusible by heat, indissoluble, and inoxidable by the corrosive action of acids.”

“There is no doubt about that,” replied the major; “and as we shall have to employ an immense quantity of metal, we shall not be at a loss for choice.”

“Well, then,” said Morgan, “I propose the best alloy hitherto known, which consists of one hundred parts of copper, twelve of tin, and six of brass.”

Any help would be much appreciated.


‘At a loss’ is another way of saying ‘lack of’. In the sentence above:

the meaning is: We are not going to be without any choce. It’s an example of understatement suggesting: We are going to have a lot of choice.


Oh, a very new definition for me… Thanks, Alan.

OK, now I understand it. Thanks a lot for your help.


Many thanks for your explanation. I was mistaken because I thought “at a loss” means =I got lost. From now I will remember the difference. This means the understatement of lack of.
At a loss is an idiom according OED. And it is written : we can use it when we are not knowing what to say or do. For example: Your comments left me at a loss for words. (lack of words)