WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English © 2017
sheet an′chor, 
  1. Nautical, Naval Termsa large anchor used only in cases of emergency.
  2. a final reliance or resource, as when in danger.
  • 1485–95

Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

sheet anchor n
  1. a large strong anchor for use in emergency
  2. a person or thing to be relied upon in an emergency
Etymology: 17th Century: from earlier shute anker, from shoot (obsolete) the sheet of a sail


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