Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “when the chips are down”

See all translations

when the chips are down

informal
when you are in a very difficult or dangerous situation, especially one that makes you understand the true value of people or things: One day when the chips are down, you will know who your true friends are.
(Definition of when the chips are down from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Word of the Day

sail

When a boat or a ship sails, it travels on the water.

Word of the Day

Byronic, Orwellian and Darwinian: adjectives from names.

by Liz Walter,
April 15, 2015
Becoming an adjective is a strange kind of memorial, but it is often a sign of a person having had real influence on the world. Science is full of examples, from Hippocrates, the Greek medic born around 460 BC, who gave his name to the Hippocratic Oath still used by doctors today,

Read More 

dumbwalking noun

April 20, 2015
walking slowly, without paying attention to the world around you because you are consulting a smartphone He told me dumbwalking probably wouldn’t be a long-term problem.

Read More