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Can I use the phrase "last leg" to refer to the last phase of some event? To be specific, if I want to say that I met someone towards the end of their journey (of months), can I say, I met him during the last legs of his trip?

Also, which proposition is appropriate: "in" the last legs or "during" the last legs?

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You can say in or during but it is last leg not last legs.

  • This should have been a comment... – Roaring Fish Sep 12 '13 at 5:46
  • @RoaringFish - because I answered concisely without adding confusing "other" facts? – RyeɃreḁd Sep 12 '13 at 5:48
  • That, and it is wrong. You can say on the last leg, but not in or during. -> books.google.com/ngrams/… – Roaring Fish Sep 12 '13 at 6:04
  • @RoaringFish - "In the last leg of the race I took over the lead." Also... When did you take over the lead? "During the last leg of the race." Am I wrong? – RyeɃreḁd Sep 12 '13 at 6:07
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    @Lavya ~ then you would be better not using "the last leg" as it is a spatial reference. A spatial reference can be used temporally if it is referred to as an experience: "while I was experiencing X, Y happened" as in "While I was experiencing (during) the last leg of the race, Y happened". This would be awkward for you as you didn't experience the last leg. "He stayed with us during the last leg of his trip" works as reported experience, but "I met him during the last leg of his trip" is awkward as you didn't 'endure' it. "I met him while he was on the last leg of his trip" is preferable. – Roaring Fish Sep 12 '13 at 8:09
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Leg comes from:

The part of an air route or a flight pattern that is between two successive stops, positions, or changes in direction.

So you should only use it when there actually were multiple legs in the trip. If the person just went to Paris for 6 months and returned and you happened to meet him during his last week in Paris it would not be on the last leg of his trip.

However if his trip was to London, then Paris, then Milan, then Vienna, then Athens. And you met him on the way from Vienna to Athens or maybe even in Athens then you met him in [or during] the last leg of his trip.

  • It has roots in running well before airplanes were invented. I am sure other uses too. – RyeɃreḁd Sep 12 '13 at 5:45
  • @RyeBread- Of course. It's the route between successive stops that's important. The dictionary I quoted brought in airplanes unfortunately. – Jim Sep 12 '13 at 5:51
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Yes, you can say that, but the individual will be on the last leg of their journey, in the same way that we are on the way home or on the way to the shop.

In or during are basically not used: Ngram

There is also on his last legs that means the individual is very tired; his legs are about to collapse. For this reason, on the final leg of a journey is often used to avoid misunderstanding.

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    In and during are used all the time. Examples - "In the last leg of the race I took over the lead." Also... When did you take over the lead? "During the last leg of the race." Ngram should not replace what we hear everyday nor logic. – RyeɃreḁd Sep 12 '13 at 6:35
  • Logic says that talking about space and talking about time are two different things. What we have here is Ngram saying one thing, based on a search of a huge corpus of books, and you saying another based on.... what? – Roaring Fish Sep 12 '13 at 6:46
  • To be specific, my line is this: "X crashed at our place for few a nights (in/on/during/towards/while on) the last leg of his round the world trip." – Lavya Sep 12 '13 at 7:01
  • As "our place" is a spatial location, this should be matched with "on the last leg". Basically, you are answering "Where did he crash?" If you want to use "towards", avoid using "the last leg" as "towards the last leg" means nearly on it, but not actually on it. – Roaring Fish Sep 12 '13 at 7:11

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