The Origins of the Bitter End

FInd out about the place and a phrase

Reaching the Bitter End

The is one of our favourite phrases and places for that matter.  The Bitter End Yacht Club in the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean has been a place of very fond memories.  The expression in common usage to mean pursuing something to an ultimate conclusion and normally insinuating some tough circumstances.


A Nautical Past

The phrase almost certainly comes from our Nautical Past.  A “bitter” was a wooden post through the deck or gunnels of a ship.  They would be used like modern day cleats to secure lines.  The bitter end of the line in the part hung or secured to the bitter.  In modern day, we sometimes talk about the “working end” and a line and the “lazy” or non-working end.  So in very simple terms, the Bitter end is the “other” end of a line that might be attached to an anchor, or a sail or some other nautical device.  And when you are paying the line out (releasing it) it would be perfectly right to say “I am approaching the bitter end”.  As you get less and less line to use, you may find it more and more difficult to control.

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