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Down to the wire

刊登日期: 2019.05.31
作者: Grace Tse  

This year, the Dragon Boat Festival will be celebrated on the 7th of June. On this public holiday, what activities do you plan to do? While some of you stay with your family and enjoy eating sticky rice dumplings, some may go to the harbour to enjoy the International Dragon Boat Races. As described on the website of the Hong Kong Tourism Board (香港旅遊發展局), it would be an exciting experience to watch the three-day intense racing going “down to the wire”. 

The expression “down to the wire” describes the decisive moment at the end of the racing event when the outcome is not yet decided. What kind of “wire” was it originally? Dictionaries suggested that the idiom was initially related to horse racing. 

Nowadays, in horse racing events, photos or videos are taken at the finishing line to help to determine the winning horses. However, in the 19th century when technology was less advanced, a small wire was strung across the track above the finishing line to help the judges to make the decision. An early example was found in “Scribner’s Magazine” in the USA in 1889. 

“As the end of the stand was reached Timarch worked up to Petrel, and the two raced down to the ‘wire’, cheered on by the applause of the spectators.” 

Since then, this phrase has appeared figuratively in modern English. 

U.S.-China Trade Talks Going Down to the Wire (news headline) 

The Premier League ( 英超聯賽) title race is set to go down to the wire ( 最後關頭; 最後一刻) and the battle for top-four places is tighter than ever. 


 
Glossary
Intense 
激烈的
Decisive 
決定性的
Outcome 
結果
Wire 
金屬線
Finishing line 
終點線
Determine 
斷定
Technology 
科技
Advanced 
先進

 

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