ON YOUR BEAM ENDS
The phrase often used to describe someone who is hard up or in a bad situation, ‘on your beam ends,’ stems from ships in peril out at sea. The beams are the horizontal timbers that transverse a ship. If a ship is described as being on its beam ends it is imminent danger of capsizing as the beam ends would actually be touching the water. The phrase dates back at least to the early 18th century.