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I was reading my child a manga story today and one character said, "here goes nothing." I hadn't heard that expression since I myself was a kid, and I always took it to mean "here goes my best try." Looking online, I found very little in terms of explaining the origin and meaning of this phrase.

Perhaps one of you can enlighten me?

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I believe this is a variation of "Here we go!" where you're expecting a negative result, especially if you've nothing to lose you might as well have a punt.


The oldest "here goes nothing" I can find is from 1889's Fibre & Fabric:

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"The latest nagging remark; 'Oh, throw yourself In a hole,and say here goes nothing.'"


However, there are earlier variants.

1875's Gulliver's travels into several remote nations of the world has:

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"and it would be awkward if I were to step into a hornet's nest. But here goes ; nothing like pluck ! there's always a way out where there's a way in.


And 1885's Blackwood's Edinburgh magazine:

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In five minutes I may get my dismissal, and be told to pack my traps. Never mind : here goes — nothing venture, nothing win."

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11  
Hugo, the second two citations have nothing to do with the idiom at all; they just coincidentally contain the same sequence of words, that's all. –  JeffSahol Sep 25 '11 at 21:54
3  
+1 for the image version of your reference; it adds a nice touch. –  John Tobler Sep 26 '11 at 22:11

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