Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The last of a series of annoyances or disappointments that leads one to a final loss of patience, temper, trust, or hope.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A small addition to a burden which causes it to exceed the capacity.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the final irritation that stretches your patience beyond the limit

Etymologies

From the proverb "It's the last straw that breaks the camel's back”.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Ellipsis of the straw that broke the camel's back. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • There was some reason in this from their point of view, becanse the weight of seventeen women and children added to two grossly overloaded trucks might well be the last straw that would bring final breakdown, in which case the guards themselves would have been lucky to escape with a flogging at the hands of their officer.

    A Town Like Alice

  • (John, in this scenario, became a demanding regional head of the environmental group, an autocratic ideologue who Doug had simply been unable to stand anymore, the last straw having been that unfortunate scene on Myrtle’s front porch.)

    Drowned Hopes

  • But if, before then, the rebels were to take Shanghai — well, it might be the last straw that brought down the Manchoo Empire.

    Flashman and the Dragon

  • But the last straw was when I was out with Michael Moore for his “Slacker Uprising” tour of colleges, and I used this joke onstage: “I voted for George Bush because he is way more ‘educationably orientated’ than that Kerry guy”—despite the fact that I got a huge laugh, the local Cleveland paper reported that I said: “George Bush is more education oriented than is John Kerry.”

    Roseanne Archy

  • The last straw upon Carl's breaking back was the arrival of his father, who descended upon him with a bass viol, an enormous basket-bed for his beloved poodles, and a large bundle of debts, as well as an increased luggage of eccentricities.

    The Love Affairs of Great Musicians

  • The march across the Bactrian desert must have been the last straw for men already on the verge of mutiny at the murder of their old commander.

    Alexander the Great

Comments

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  • Presumably the one that broke the proverbial camel's back.

    March 19, 2008