“If worse comes to worst . . .”

There are several key phrases that Americans use when making quick, suboptimal decisions. Some of these include:

At the drop of a hat – without any hesitation, instantly; with the slightest provocation. 

Back to the drawing board – when a decision fails and a new one needs to be made. First known use: 1941 in a cartoon in the New Yorker magazine.

Back to square one – when a decisions fails so completely that you have to go back to the beginning and start over.

Cross that bridge when you come to it – deal with a problem when it arises, not before. First known use: 1851 in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s The Golden Legend.

If worse comes to worst . . . –  if the worst possible outcome of the bad decision occurs, the person saying it will do whatever he/she says next. First known use: 1596. Example: We’ll put this to market now, and if worse comes to worst we’ll refund our customers’ money.

Rash decision – a decision made without considering all of the details.