How can I say for example:

Individual retailers run out of business when a big fish came to town. So they had accepted that they cannot compete and closed their stores.

In the novel To Kill A Mockingbird, Tom Robinson finally gave in, even though he was innocent. Because the witnesses were against him, he did not oppose the charges (out of desperation).

So I think there may be a word perfect for this. 'yield' is closest that comes to my mind.

  • 1
    Emmet, you asked a great question, but a word of advice: it is not a good idea to refer to an African-American as "the black". I don't want to start a PC/anti-PC language war here, but many, if not most people would consider the + [racial adjective] to be offensive. Far better to use the literary character's name: Tom Robinson finally gave in... Feb 19, 2013 at 12:44
  • @ShawnMooney thanks a lot. But you know what I am totally confused too, when I saw that it was written 'black'. Because I had written 'black guy', I am pretty sure because I checked to be careful. Then I thought maybe an editor edited, and changed to 'black' thinking 'black guy' is racist. So then I did not edit back. I was going to ask, why it was edited. So I will edit now.
    – Emmet B
    Feb 19, 2013 at 12:45
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    Good idea. It doesn't appear that anyone other than you has edited your post. Many people would similarly object to the black guy, by the way. Using the character's name is the best way to go. While you are at it, correct the spelling mistakes in the novel's title and italicize it: To Kill A Mockingbird. There are other grammar problems with this text; do you want me to point them out? Feb 19, 2013 at 12:56
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    thanks Shawn, I can edit also you can edit directly my post, and can get extra badge I guess.
    – Emmet B
    Feb 19, 2013 at 12:58
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    I edited it, but in fact the text you have written does not conform precisely to the actual plot summary. I did not make changes to reflect that, because to do so would have removed the target language you were inquiring about. But in fact, Tom Robinson did not really give in, or resign himself to his fate; after his wrongful conviction, he made a desperate attempt to escape prison, and was shot dead. It was a tragic suicide, really: death-by-prison-guard. Feb 19, 2013 at 13:08

9 Answers 9


You could say that they were resigned to their fate.

From Wiktionary:

To submit passively; to give up as hopeless or inevitable. [from 15th c.]
Here is a man who was resigned to his fate, who was walking to the scaffold and about to die like a coward, that's true, but at least he was about to die without resisting and without recrimination. Do you know what gave him that much strength? Do you know what consoled him? Do you know what resigned him to his fate?

  • that sounds great
    – Emmet B
    Feb 19, 2013 at 7:47
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    I agree it is a great phrase for #1, but it would need to be altered slightly to fit into OP's context: Tom Robinson resigned himself to his fate. Feb 19, 2013 at 12:41

They accepted the inevitable.


I think you are looking for

to give up : To cease to do or perform

Independent store owners often give up and go out of business when faced with competition from large retail chains.


A good phrase for this is threw in the towel. It has the connotation that you did your best, but you can't fight it any longer.


Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Acquiescence - accept, agree, or allow something to happen by staying silent or by not arguing
  2. Resignation - the feeling that something unpleasant is going to happen and cannot be changed
  3. Surrender - to agree to stop fighting, hiding, resisting, etc., because you know that you will not win or succeed
  • Yes, I was thinking surrender as well
    – Sk Johnson
    Feb 18, 2016 at 3:48

As a suggestion for the first text, I like the somewhat-informal phrase cut [someone's] losses, which means to stop doing something that is failing, so that you do not waste any more money, time, or effort. In order to incorporate it into OP's text, some revision is necessary, and I shall also correct other grammar mistakes and suggest better wording:

Individual retailers ran out of business when a big fish came to town. Not being able to compete, they cut their losses and closed their stores.


Learned helplessness is

the condition of a human or animal that has learned to behave helplessly, failing to respond even though there are opportunities for it to help itself...

People who resign, acquiesce, yield, give up (etc.) often do so because of learned helplessness and not because they actually lack options. Life has simply taught them to be helpless.

I wouldn't apply "learned helplessness" to either the retailers who are run out of town, or to Tom Robinson, because in those scenarios they truly are helpless. But it does apply to your title, "accepting a situation out of desperation."

I guess the opposite would be to go down fighting.


There is also throw in the towel - To quit.

This phrase comes from boxing. When a boxer is too beat up to continue, his coach throws a towel into the ring to signal that the fight is over. 1) The company threw in the towel after losing all of its major customers.

2) Mike 'Boom Boom' DeNola threw in the towel after three rounds. He'll probably have to spend a few days in the hospital, followed by a long convalescence in Miami.*


They made peace with it. It means *to accept a reality, usually unpleasant.**

See the free dictionary and writing tips for discussion.

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