Grasp at straws be in such a desperate situation as to resort to even the most unlikely means of salvation. From the proverb, a drowning man will clutch at a straw.
straws in one's hair denoting a state of insanity, from the supposed characteristic practice of a deranged person; the first explicit reference to the expression is found in Lewis Carroll's description of the illustration by Tenniel of the March Hare in Alice in Wonderland.
straws tell which way the wind blows proverbial saying, mid 17th century; in Table-talk (1689), John Selden recommended, ‘Take a straw and throw it up in the Air, you shall see by that which way the wind is.’ The phrase ‘a straw in the wind’ for a sign of the prevailing opinion or tendency is also found.
See also straw.
Subjects: Decorative Arts, Furniture, and Industrial Design.