I recently heard the expression "gone for a toss", which in Indian English means afaik "broken beyond repair" or "completely out of order".

What is the origin of this expression? Is it borrowed from Cricket?


2 Answers 2


The expression "gone for a toss" appears to be a typical Indian one, and its derivation from cricket might be a reasonable assumption:

From The Hindu:

  • (M. Sajith, Malappuram) Very often we hear someone saying, ‘My new cell phone has gone for a toss' or ‘My plans went for a toss.' What do they mean by this? Well, when a teenager says that his cell phone has gone for a toss, he means that it has stopped working or that it is not working properly. Similarly, when someone's plans go for a toss, things don't go the way he/she had anticipated or planned.

  • This frequently heard expression is used only in India; native speakers of English do not say ‘gone for a toss'. They would probably use the word ‘haywire' in some of the contexts. They would say, ‘My cell phone has gone haywire' and ‘My plans went haywire'.

The toss in cricket is actually used to refer to an element of unpredictability, the idea of somethning out of your control:

  • The toss is a tribute to the element of luck that is at the base of cricket. Even those who are in control of their destiny — the great batsman, the successful bowler —know the role of chance in their performance. The toss merely acknowledges this.
  • What would be native translation of: We book the meeting room in advance but at the last moment , CEO would show up and hijacked the room and everything else would go for a toss. Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 5:28

There is a much more obvious cricket derivation. A "full toss" is a delivery that reaches the batsman without bouncing, and they are rarely done on purpose because they are so easy to hit. They are worse than a wasted delivery. So "to go for a toss" means to waste something horribly.

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