The Bitter End

Meanings of “The Bitter End”

The phrase “the bitter end” means to complete something despite having stressful or unpleasant experiences. The phrase is also used to describe when a person puts efforts to the maximum effort, to the farthest point, until he or she cannot do anything.

Origin of “The Bitter End”

The phrase “the bitter end” is said to have originated from the Bible, translated in the King James Version, where it is stated as; “For the lips of a strange woman drop as a honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil:  But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword.”

Later, it was cited in Seaman’s Grammar, published in 1627, where the phrase is used as; “A Bitter is but the turne of a Cable about the Bits, and veare it out by little and little. And the Bitters end is that part of the Cable doth stay within boord.”  Moreover, Shakespeare has also used this phrase in his poems and plays.

Examples in Literature

Example #1

The Bitter End by Band Placebo

“Since we’re feeling so anesthetized
In our comfort zone
Reminds me of the second time
That I followed you home
We’re running out of alibis
On the second of may
Reminds me of the summertime
On this winters day

See you at the bitter end
See you at the bitter end.

Every step we took that synchronized
Every broken bone
Reminds me of the second time
That I followed you home
You showered me with lullabies
Had you walking away
Reminds me that its killing time
On this fateful day.”

These two stanzas reflect the miserable plight of the speaker. The speaker feels uneasy in his comfort zone because he is constantly hunted by the past. In the first stanza, he speaks about the summer times when he probably had the last meeting with his beloved. He never knew that their story is going to have a bitter end. In the second stanza, he continues to talk about that unforgettable time when his beloved left him leaving him on the edge of sadness. Unfortunately, those biting feelings still hunt him and never allow him to enjoy life. Thus, the phrase shows its meanings clearly as used as the title of the lyric.

Example #2

Bitter End by Jennifer Brown

The novel, Bitter End, tells the story of a lady named Alex, who meets a new boy, Cole. Soon, their meeting transforms into friendship and they begin to date, too. Alex believes that she has got her soulmate. Unfortunately, after some time their perfect relationship starts suffering when Cole gets angry at the slightest things. He starts abusing her physically and verbally. Alex, on the other hand, tolerates everything in the name of love, believing that he is the only one who understands her feelings. However, with time, she realizes that their relationship is destined to have a bitter end. She overcomes her fear of losing her soulmate and leaves him for good. The meanings of the phrase are literal or straightforward.

Example #3

The Bitter End by Rebecca Dalmaso

“When you scream out as I have done
Take a good look at what I have become
As you beg for mercy with a desperate face
Watch me walk away while you drown in disgrace

It won’t be long now until the bitter end
The moment has passed to slow my descend
Why could nobody see what I was worth?
Faintly beating heart abandoned at birth
Now justice is just an empty word
I could have been saved if my cries had been heard.”

The first stanza talks about the speaker’s struggle as if she has endured a lot in life. Therefore, she suggests that if a person is going to scream, he/she can consider his/her life as an example. However, the second stanza sheds light on the misery of the speaker that she was never loved in life; nobody cared about her feelings. Now, she says that justice cannot remove the scars she received on her heart and soul. The phrase has been used as a metaphor for an extremely hard life.

Example #4

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

“These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triump die, like fire and powder
Which, as they kiss, consume.”

This quote from Shakespeare’s famous play, Romeo and Juliet is a blend of both; tragedy and love. It presents before us the story of two young and charming star-crossed lovers whose tragic demise reconciles their families. The above-stated words have been uttered by a priest, Friar Lawrence, at the time of Romeo and Juliet’s wedding. To him, their marriage is unstable and it is not going to last for a long time. Unfortunately, the same priest writes the bitter end of their love story by poisoning Juliet. Although the phrase is not used exactly the same, yet it conveys similar meanings.

Examples in Sentences

Example #1: “I regret that Jim did not help us all the way to the bitter end, but his sincere efforts have been immense.”

Example #2: “The United States decided that their army would fight to the bitter end in order to execute their mission.”

Example #3: “Like my friends, I am also not enjoying the content of this book, but I will surely stick with it till the bitter end.”

Example #4: “I remember when my mother was diagnosed with cancer, my father provided her extra care and stayed beside her bed till the bitter end.”

Example #5: “Sam couldn’t cope with the new changes and so it was to come to a bitter end? I suppose.”