Friendly Skies (1933, 1965); Thrill/Victory (1875); Agony/Defeat (1864)

Michael Quinion TheEditor at WORLDWIDEWORDS.ORG
Mon Dec 9 13:43:57 UTC 2002

> Speaking of victory and defeat, Barry, what is the earliest you
> can find for the phrase "snatch victory from the jaws of defeat"?

As a marker, the earliest I can find is this from Ralph Connor's
"The Foreigner: A Tale of Saskatchewan" of 1909 (Chapter 17): "All
the old, easy, lazy air was gone. In every line of his handsome
face, in every movement of his body, there showed vigour and
determination. The old English fighting spirit was roused, whose
tradition it was to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and

What about the much more recent inverse, to snatch defeat from the
jaws of victory?

Michael Quinion
Editor, World Wide Words
E-mail: <TheEditor at>
Web: <>

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