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To risk it all, even if it means losing everything; going all out.
This phrase is used in situations where a person is taking a big risk.
When someone says they are 'broke,' that usually means they have little to no money available. So when a person 'goes for broke,' it means they are going to take a risk, a risk that may leave them 'broke,' without any money. How did this expression come to be?
Well, this phrase is believed to have originated from gambling, where people bet their money in hopes of winning more. Wikitionary claims that the idiom comes from "Hawaiian Pidgin craps slang," where the participating players would wager everything on a single roll of the dice. Thus, the players were 'going for broke' in the sense that they were putting everything on the line, win or lose, based on that one roll. Yes, they would be broke if they lost.
Note: The definitions for sayings can be found with ease, but finding the origins of phrases proves far more challenging. Looking back through history, it's tough to find the place or person in which a phrase has its roots. We are limited to what can be found in writings, such as books, poems, newspapers, and plays. Often times, phrases will be quoted from century old newspapers, or from plays that were done in the 17th century by playwrights like William Shakespeare.
The phrases that are quoted are likely already commonly known, and have their origins elsewhere. For instance, just because an idiom shows up in a newspaper from 1850, does not mean the idiom originated from that newspaper. However, what that does tell you, is that the phrase was being used since 1850, so its origins are at least more than 150 years old.
* Jacob decided to go for broke by investing the entirety of his monopoloy money in hotels, and then hoping someone would land on them shortly after. The move didn't work, however, and Jacob eventually lost the game.
* Whenever I'm playing a racing video game and I'm falling behind, I'll go for broke and take riskier moves than I normally would in an attempt to catch up to the rest of the pack.