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I am wondering what are the nuances among the following options and whether they all work properly in this sentence:

  • After so much work, just keep it up a little longer! You've got this far. If I were you, I would make a .......

a. final push
b. last-ditch effort
c. shoot one's bolt

I need to imply the last effort through an idiom in AmE. It seems that the idiom "shoot one's bolt" is more common in BrE, but I need a purely AmE idiom. Also, according to the Longman dictionary, "shoot one's wad" has been introduced as the American alternative for the British version "shoot one's bolt". However, I have no idea if it works in this sense in common, everyday American speeches.

Many thanks

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    (BrE speaker) I've never heard the "shoot one's bolt" expression.
    – James K
    Commented May 30, 2022 at 7:40
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    Shoot one's wad has acquired a sexual connotation that coexists with the meaning you have cited. Knowing when you shouldn't use it might require years of experience. Commented May 30, 2022 at 9:03
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    To have shot one's bolt is something said after making a [final or only] effort / contribution, so it's not relevant here. The main difference between making a final push and a last-ditch effort is that the former nearly always confidently refers to what's expected to be a successful (albeit arduous) endeavour, whereas the latter is generally restricted to pessimistic contexts with a perceived high chance of total failure. Commented May 30, 2022 at 13:54
  • You might wish to compare 'go for broke', 'pull out all the stops', 'all or nothing', 'swan song', 'forlorn hope'. 'make or break', 'do or die', 'grand finale', 'last act'...
    – Kirt
    Commented May 31, 2022 at 22:35

2 Answers 2

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If the intention is to encourage the person to keep persevering until the job is finished, I would choose make a final push.

Make a last-ditch effort implies that the person has been failing up to now but might just manage to succeed at the last moment.

If you have shot your bolt, you have already used up all your resources and have no chance of succeeding.

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The phrase "Go big or go home" comes to mind, as in

  • After so much work, just keep it up a little longer! You've got this far. If I were you, I would go big or go home.

Even though the phrase implies a choice, the implication is that one should not quit (or "go home") and therefore one should give it a final intense effort ("go big")

I think the phrase also implies finality, because if you "go big" (attempt again with maximum effort) and still fail, you aren't likely to be able to go bigger again after that.

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