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English definition of “when the chips are down”

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.Difficult situations and unpleasant experiencesAccidents and disasters
(Definition of when the chips are down from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

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