Are you going through tough times?

Sometimes situations are hard and you have to find certain solutions to deal with them.

In today’s episode, Lindsay and Michelle share with you a super common native English phrase to describe this situation.

Listen in and find out how to use that phrase to be sarcastic as well.

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures

Lindsay and Michelle share that they will be talking about the phrase “desperate times, call for desperate measures.”

Michelle asks Lindsay if she thinks people use this phrase.

Lindsay said yes.

She definitely sees people using this to describe a difficult situation they are in.

She adds that you can use this in different scenarios.

It may be a difficult situation in a formal setting and it can also be used on a personal level where you try to make fun of yourself and use it sarcastically.

It’s pretty common. It’s also a little formal sounding, but it can be used informally as well.

Michelle asks another question to Lindsay on what the phrase “desperate times, call for desperate measures” really means.

Lindsay responds that it means to find an extreme way to solve an extreme problem.

Examples of Desperate Situations

Now that Lindsay and Michelle have shared what the phrase “desperate times call for desperate measures” means, they will share examples of situations you can use this phrase next.

Here they are:

  • Global Health Crisis – The entire world stopped for a moment when the Covid pandemic hit. There were so many things people did to stay safe. Lindsay shared the time when people wiped out the toilet paper in the grocery stores because they thought there was going to be a shortage. It was a very extreme response of people in a crisis.
  • Housing Market – This is a time when people may have to pay much more money for a house than they anticipated. Lindsay laughed and mentioned she is a part of this situation because she recently moved to their new house. She explains that right now, housing prices are so high and it feels like it doesn’t make sense. But if you look at the interest rates, it is so low for the first quarter of 2022. She thinks this is a tricky scenario, so they just took a leap of faith and bought a new house. She reckons this is the ripple effect of the health crisis. The term “ripple effect” means to have a continuing impact from an event or action. Lindsay describes it as like dropping a pebble in water, it makes a ripple effect that moves across the water.
  • Training a baby to sleep – Michelle shares that this is a personal scenario for her since she remembers when she tried to sleep train her son. She adds that some parents try the “cry it out method.” This type of method to help children sleep is to just let them cry and not pick them up to allow them to self-soothe. She didn’t try this method but she tried a variety of ways to train her son to sleep and alleviate their stress. Moving to a new place for a job – This often happens to people who are having a hard time finding a job in their own area. Michelle mentions the movie “This is Us”, where one of the characters had to move out to find work.

Lindsay shares her own scenario that which she may use the phrase “desperate times call for desperate measures.”

She intended to cook for her date and she really doesn’t cook.

She would try her best to prepare dinner but struggles and it’s only a few more minutes before her dates come to her home and the food isn’t ready.

She would then just opt to order pizza.


Michelle says that the phrase “desperate times call for desperate measures” is very versatile.

You can use it either formally or informally.

Here are a few roleplays done by Michelle and Lindsay so you can better understand how to use the phrase in different settings.

Scenario#1: Lindsay and Michelle are co-workers and they have a deadline on a report

Lindsay: Oh my gosh. I think we will be here until 2:00 am finishing this report.

Michelle: I know, this is awful, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Scenario#2: Lindsay and Michelle are friends. Michelle is stuck in a difficult situation.

Michelle: I can’t believe I got gum in my hair.

Lindsay: Yeah, I honestly think you just have to cut that whole chunk out.

Michelle: Noooo. Lindsay: I know, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

In the next scenario, Michelle shares another phrase that is similar to “desperate times call for desperate measures.”

Scenario#3: Lindsay and Michelle are talking about the flight Michelle has to take to attend a wedding.

Michelle: I really don’t want to have three layovers to get to this wedding.

Lindsay: I know.

Michelle: Ugh. But, ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

Using the phrase “ya gotta do what ya gotta do” is an informal way of saying “desperate times call for desperate measures.”


Lindsay and Michelle have shared very useful expressions in today’s episode.

You can easily use it in a conversation to describe difficult situations formally and informally.

This can also be used in different contexts like talking about current events, personal experience, work and many more.

These phrases are very versatile and getting the hang of using them will make you sound more like a native English speaker.

What difficult situation can you think of that you had to resolve with extreme solutions?

Share it in the comments below and we’d love to hear about it.

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