A drowning man will catch a straw. (vs. catch at a straw)

A drowning man will catch a straw. (also correct?)

A drowning man will catch at a straw. (a commonly used and fixed expression: maxim)

‘catch a straw’ is also idiomatic? You know the verb ‘catch’ is both transitive and intransitive.

question is: catch a straw is also acceptable?

Answer

Despite what other people have told you catch at a straw is the older form of the proverb, and is still heard, though clutch at a straw is more common now. See here.

Catch at is not normally used today, but has an implication of trying to reach but not succeeding. If you said catch a straw, that implies that the person has successfully caught the straw. Logically, this is just as uselss as failing to, since a straw will be no help to a drowning man; but to my ear catch a straw lacks the sense of desperation I hear in catch at a straw.

Attribution
Source : Link , Question Author : BEBYGONES , Answer Author : Colin Fine

Leave a Comment