What is a simple definition or phrase to replace this idiom, "against all odds"? I could use despite all difficulties but it's too difficult for my 5-6 year old kids to understand. My sentence is as follows. In all his trials he trusted God; to help him through against all odds. Appreciate any suggestions. Thanks!

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    ... even though he didn't seem to have a/much chance. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 5 '14 at 16:12
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    despite everything. – John Lawler Apr 5 '14 at 16:15
  • help him through any situation or through tough times - – Aluna Apr 5 '14 at 16:19
  • Thank you so much for all the suggestions. They are really good. – Petra Apr 5 '14 at 16:32
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    For a five-year-old I think you should keep it simple. "He knew that God would help him whatever happened". Or maybe "...no matter what difficulties/problems he faced" if your kids are already reasonably familiar with that level of English. I doubt the average child of that age has any real concept of what "faith" or "trust in God" means, and even ten-year-olds would invariably say "I don't believe you", rather than "I don't trust you". – FumbleFingers Apr 5 '14 at 18:24

If you just want a phrase, the above answers are good. If you want to teach your children about chance and odds, I would simply use a quarter, and show them all the sides: heads, tails, and side.

Teach them heads and tails until they understand a 50-50 chance or equal chance. Then tell them how chance is related to odds (easy enough; it's another word for it.)

Once they understand this, prepare to toss the coin, only this time, ask them what the odds are that it will land on it's side (standing up). As they will not have seen this before, it is against (almost) all odds.

What God did for the supplicant, basically, was help him even when this seemed as unlikely as landing the quarter on its side in a toss.

  • I must be honest - although I suspect against all odds ultimately does derive from "betting odds", I think as used today it's really on a par with usages such as "I'm at odds with him" (we disagree, we are enemies). That's to say I understand it as against all adversaries rather than against all things that might happen, however unlikely. – FumbleFingers Apr 5 '14 at 21:49
  • @FumbleFingers - completely fair. I also suspect it comes from betting, somewhat similar to dark horse. – anongoodnurse Apr 5 '14 at 21:57

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