What is a good word or two that means "The last person you can call on?"

For example, you've tried calling your normal plumber, but he can't do the job (primary), you've called your backup. They can't do the job. Now you're calling your ______ plumber, because they always pick up and they can handle anything.

I've thought of "end of the line" and "final" but they don't capture the idea of "the one you can definitely count on, but you don't call on them unless it's dire."

I've thought of "primary, secondary, tertiary" and "Primary, penultimate, ultimate."

But those don't quite capture the idea either.

Do you have a better idea?

  • 6
    From the way you have described him, he's the first one I would have called!
    – WS2
    Aug 11, 2017 at 18:16
  • 1
    But he might be far more expensive. You don't want to use him unless he's very much needed.
    – Tallima
    Aug 11, 2017 at 18:21
  • 1
    Understandable! My thought was maybe he smoked. Put your reason in your Q.
    – ab2
    Aug 11, 2017 at 18:24
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    It is perhaps too idiomatic but you could say "contingency plumber". Aug 11, 2017 at 18:33
  • 1
    Great answers. Last-resort, emergency and fall-back are all good, precise words. My boss chose *emergency " for our purposes, but I think fall-back may be the most precise. So I shall mark that as the answer. The less-desirable but assured solution is your fall-back.
    – Tallima
    Aug 12, 2017 at 1:13

4 Answers 4


How about your last-resort plumber?

From the OED:

last-resort, adj: Used or adopted when there is no other option or when everything else has failed.

It can also function as a noun:

last resort, n:  A final opportunity for appeal. In later use more generally: a final expedient, something to be adopted when everything else has failed.

It does imply that it is the least-desired option (otherwise, why would you not choose this option earlier?), but does not necessarily imply that you can't "count on" it. It certainly captures "you don't call on them unless it's dire".

  • 2
    At the end of the day, the question DOES implicitly indicate that the plumber in question is the least desired plumber, even if said plumber is the most skilled and most likely to be available. Some terms from other answers might be better in specific situations, such as "emergency" for something that's your last resort because it's only available in limited quantities, or "fallback" to indicate something that would be very reliable but deficient in other areas such as speed, but the very last option you go to is always "last resort" regardless of why it's the last option. Aug 11, 2017 at 18:44
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    Wow, first time I've hit rep cap on SE ever, and it came with a shiny gold badge. Thanks for the great response to this answer! Aug 12, 2017 at 4:48
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    Congrats on Rep Cap! Aug 12, 2017 at 12:59

Fallback [fawl-bak] /noun

  1. something or someone to turn or return to, especially for help or as an alternative

/adjective, Also fall-back

  1. of or designating something kept in reserve or as an alternative

Source: Dictionary.com

  • 1
    I think this "can" means almost the opposite. You not calling the best plumber your now desperate and calling any guy with a wrench. That said, it's still valid, just might not be as clear.
    – coteyr
    Aug 13, 2017 at 6:46

"Last-resort", as previously mentioned is a good answer.

Other options are:

"Last-chance" plumber.


"Emergency" plumber.


"Go-to" plumber. (Although this implies that you would call him first. It sounds like the plumber you're talking about is not a very good plumber and that is why he always answers the phone, and he's your last choice.)

  • 2
    I'd agree that "go-to" implies the first plumber you go to, so the exact opposite of the request. I do like "emergency", since that captures the last-ditch attempt but also the reliability of the plumber (you can trust them in an emergency). I've never heard "last-chance" in this context; I'd almost be inclined to think that the plumber is on probation ("if they mess up one more time, I'm never calling them again!"), but that might just be me. Aug 11, 2017 at 17:32
  • @KernelPanic I totally agree. Emergency plumber seems the best suited. I just like to provide examples in sets of three. :) With a bad, medium, and best choice!
    – Devil07
    Aug 11, 2017 at 18:51
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    @KernelPanic I agree with emergency plumber, as those who are prepared to deal with emergencies are usually the best-trained, most-skilled, and/or most-experienced; and yes, also usually the most expensive (hence the last you'd call unless it was already an emergency, or everyone else had failed.)
    – CodeShane
    Aug 11, 2017 at 21:27

Maybe paramount?

above others in rank or authority; superior in power or jurisdiction. dictionary.com

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