Discuss and learn French: French vocabulary, French grammar, French culture etc.
Although my French isn't brilliant I would have thought this to be similar to the English meaning of
the phrase "To burn one's boats" - in other words, no further chance of success / escape from a given situation.
The Larousse online dictionary gives "shoot one's bolt" .It sounds a little different.The boat burning sounds a little more defensive perhaps.
There is also the "last throw of the dice" expression....
Collins Dictionary says "make one last desperate attempt." If you want to stick with metaphors there's "play my last card."
"To burn one's bridges..."? Would this work?
I'm not sure of the French meaning but from the Collins definition, "burning one's bridge" would be different. When you burn your bridge, you are severing ties with your friends or you've bad-mouthed your co-workers after you left a job. there's no going back and since you may need these people in the future you are advised not to "burn your bridge" when you leave a job. "making one last desperate attempt" (Collins) is different. it's using your last option. so i think an english equivalent pivots on whether Collins has it right but i'm finding they're good.
The meaning of 'Bruler ses dernières cartouches' is to exhaust all of one's resources that makes it impossible for you to change your plans and go back to the situation you were in before
so shoot one's bolt, burn one's bridge (or boat), last throw of the dice and play my last card are all fine.
Which one is the most often used ?
L'expression "jouer sa dernière carte" existe aussi en Français.
D'ailleurs ... est-ce qu'il y a une différence, si minime soit-elle, entre les deux expressions ?
A very literate friend said "burning your bridge" is always used with regard to a relationship with a person as I've illustrated. I didn't read all the entries when I googled it, but most people are also defining it this way. I would think it would be used by the military but I haven't seen it among the google entries. I still think there's a connotation of doing something that has consequences you may regret and I'd say your definition contains that more or less. I've never heard "shoot one's bolt." Without know the context, I guess "burn your bridge" would work. I don't see why it would have to be limited to relationships just because that's how people know it.
To "burn your bridges behind you" means, once a decision has been made by you, you cannot go back. It does probably come from a military idea in that you cannot retreat any longer; there's no way back. You can only go forward. It doesn't have to be only about relationships but anything in life where you can no longer retreat from a life-changing decision. If you sell your house and move to another city, you can no longer return to that house. Your house is gone. If you quit your job after deciding to lash out on your own, you can not go back to that job. But we are talking French here. "Bruler ses denieres cartouches" is probably closer to "shoot your last round", i n other words, "to blow it all"--like at Vegas or Monte Carlo when one bets everything on a number--win or lose.
Correction/apology for non-anglophones:
"Without knowing the context" not "Without know..."