David Barry (pappubahry) wrote in linguaphiles,
David Barry

Snatching defeat or victory

I always thought that the original version of the somewhat cliched expression was "snatching victory from the jaws of defeat" (i.e., coming from behind for a last-minute win), and that "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory" was a mildly humorous inversion to describe a team choking from a commanding position. But I see that Google gives 67 800 hits for "victory from the jaws of defeat" and 206 000 from "defeat from the jaws of victory".

So which came first? My intuition is that the humorous inversion has become more popular because it's amusing to talk about great falls, but I don't like to trust my intuition on these things.

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