I have a question about the usage of the phrase "at the end of" in this wikipedia article:

During World War II, the Wehrmacht lacked necessary supplies, such as winter uniforms, due to the many delays in the German army's movements. At the same time, Hitler's plans for Operation Barbarossa actually miscarried before the onset of severe winter weather: he was so confident of a quick victory that he did not prepare for even the possibility of winter warfare in Russia. In fact his eastern army suffered more than 734,000 casualties during the first five months of the invasion before the winter started. On 27 November 1941, Eduard Wagner, the Quartermaster General of the German Army, reported that "We are at the end of our resources in both personnel and material. We are about to be confronted with the dangers of deep winter."

Is "at the end of our resources" nonstandard English? Could it be the original quote was in German, and the translation was sloppy?

  • This is not a proper answer, but here I've found that at the end of «can also mean a metaphorical end, like at the end of the story or at the end of the movie».
    – mrnld
    Jan 17, 2016 at 7:57
  • @mrnld - Or "at the end of my rope," which is even more metaphorical.
    – J.R.
    Jan 17, 2016 at 11:09

1 Answer 1


Nope, nothing sloppy here, neither in the quote, nor in the quotation.

The word end need not refer to something with physical length (like a leash) nor a span of time (like my life). Nothing prevents the end of from being used with a resource, such as gasoline.

For example, a survivor can be near the end of his food supplies, a prisoner can be at the end of his hope, and a mother can be at the end of her patience. In fact, end of my patience is a rather common phrase that is readily found in literature; one fictional character even says this to Sherlock Holmes – so that phrase has been in use for over a century, at least.

Consider this quote:

Estimates based on the most complete data now available place the end of our gasoline supply between ten and twenty years, with the odds in favor of ten rather than twenty.

That's not sloppy English, it's just sloppy mathematics. (The prediction was made in 1925.)

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