I was reading a book named "The personal MBA" and I encountered the following sentence-

“If the idea is promising, you’re in a great position to make it happen. If your assumptions don’t hold true, you’re able to cut your losses without losing your shirt or your dignity.”

Does it mean to go bankrupt?

  • Have you consulted a dictionary?
    – Mick
    Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 6:51
  • It means to lost the very thing. This prhase reminds to Jay Z's lyrics in Renegade :" can step in my pants, can walk in my shoes. Bet everything you worth, you lose tie and your shirt" Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 9:15

2 Answers 2


Bankruptcy is a legal term, and it's possible to go bankrupt without "losing your shirt".

The best definition would probably be "to lose everything".

If your house burns down or gets repossessed, you get mugged while travelling, or otherwise lose most of your stuff, it is still very uncommon for you to lose the clothing you are currently wearing. People would say you're left "with nothing but the shirt on your back".

Once you've lost the shirt as well, you're really in trouble.


I would argue that to lose one's shirt implies informed consent of the risks. If you lose your shirt in the stock market, it means you knowingly invested more than you could afford to lose and then you proceeded to lose it. If you lose your shirt in a house fire, it literally means you had one shirt that you lost in a house fire. The euphemism doesn't apply, unless you started said fire to scam insurance and then was found out.


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