Idiom: On a hiding to nothing


Long time no see! How are you all, teachers and friends?

I need you to help me out with the idiom “On a hiding to nothing”. I understand it suggests a successful outcome is impossible and ‘a hiding to nothing’ is like ‘dollars to doughnuts’, alluding to something like a high score. But why ‘a hiding’? What does ‘hiding’ mean here?

Thank you!


Hi Haihao,

Good to hear from you again. I’ve missed your probing questions. ‘Hiding’ means thrashing/beating/ and the expression ‘on a hiding to nothing’ is said to derive from boxing. The expression means: in a situation where it’s impossible to win.


Hi Alan,

Thank you so much again for your ever open-and-shut explanations. I have missed the forum too, sir, and all of you, my ‘good old’ friends! My wrestling with Ulysses is settled for the time being and I’d like to come back and enjoy it with you as I did in the ‘good old time’!