old college try



(This etymology is missing or incomplete. Please add to it, or discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium.)


old college try (plural old college tries)

  1. (informal) A vigorous, committed attempt or effort, often in the context of a nearly hopeless situation where failure is expected.
    • 1929, Munsey's Magazine, vol. 96, no. 3, p. 355:
      Those who have seen Ruth make the "old college try" understand that some professionals play with a spiritual fervor which is supposed to be the amateur's prerogative.
    • 1980, T. E. Kalem, "Happy Hangover" (theatre review of Fifth of July), Time, 17 Nov.:
      Reeve gives his role the old college try—fervent amateurism.
    • 2003, Keith Parsons, "Janzen takes two-shot lead in BellSouth Classic," USA Today, 6 April (retrieved 16 Aug. 2009):
      "You know, all I can do is go out there and give it the old college try and play my hardest."

Usage notesEdit

  • Often used in the expression give it the old college try.

See alsoEdit