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I'd like to know if "All is not lost" is an idiom or a proverb. Also, what does "lost" mean literally here?

I know the meaning of this saying. I just want to see if the meaning of this saying is deducible from the meaning of its component words.

I'd appreciate your help.

  • Yes, its meaning can be deduced from the words. You can lose your car keys. You can be lost at sea. You can lose a battle. The battle can be lost. "It is not a total defeat" would be a decent paraphrase. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Apr 13 '18 at 10:09
  • What exactly described is not "lost" in "All is not lost"? – Apollyon Apr 13 '18 at 13:18
  • I don't see the connection between the literal sense of "lost" (as in "lost a key") and the actual interpretation of "All is not lost." – Apollyon Apr 13 '18 at 13:19
  • It seems "lost" as in "All is not lost" means "hopeless," and has the same meaning as "lost" as in "a lost cause." But would you say a lost cause is a cause that has been lost? – Apollyon Apr 13 '18 at 14:19
  • A cause and a battle are analogues. It's a figurative usage, not an idiom, and not a proverb. I cannot help it if you don't see the connection. A lost cause has become a separate collocation. You may be a lost cause if there's no getting you to change your ways. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Apr 13 '18 at 19:15
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As per Macmillan's dictionary, 'All is not lost' is neither a proverb nor an idiom. It's a phrase of 'lost'.

The meaning of this phrase is:

Still some chance of success or recovery.

Now, the verb 'lose' has many meanings as you can check here. But, for this particular phrase, we can say that someone has a little hope for recovery or success is still left.

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According to the Oxford Dictionaries:

All is not lost

is used to suggest that there is still some chance of success or recovery:

I know things look grim, but all is not lost

In other words there are still chances of improving the situation we're in.

  • I know the meaning of this saying. All I'm doing is trying to see if its meaning can be deduced from the meanings of its components. – Apollyon Apr 13 '18 at 8:23
  • Yes, you can get its meaning. Not all (everything) is lost. @Apollyon – Lucian Sava Apr 13 '18 at 13:42
  • It seems "lost" as in "All is not lost" means "hopeless," and has the same meaning as "lost" as in "a lost cause." But would you say a lost cause is a cause that has been lost? – Apollyon Apr 13 '18 at 14:15

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