all is fair in love and war

all is fair in love and war

Meaning

  • in situations of love and war you do not have to obey rules of reasonable behaviour
  • in love and war, people are not bound by rules of fair play
  • in certain situations, like love or war, you are allowed to be deceitful to fulfill your objectives
  • in highly charged situations, even any method of achieving your goals is acceptable
  • certain situations are so overwhelming that acting in your own selfish interest is justifiable

Example Sentences

  1. In order to go on a date with Elle, Paul tricked her into believing that her boyfriend was seeing another woman. Well, all’s fair in love and war.
  2. When Ray realised that his best friend and he were attracted to the same girl, he made every effort to put him down in front of her. All’s fair in love and war.
  3. He kept asking her out although she had said no several times – all’s fair in love and war.
  4. He did not tell her of his past lest she rejected him – all’s fair in love and war.

Origin
This phrase, in its current form, was first found in the novel “Frank Fairlegh” by Frank E. Smedley in 1850. Very similar phrases with the same meaning are found in the 1620 translation of Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote II by Tom Sheldon and the 1845 novel Smuggler II by G.P.R. James. Even prior to that, love has been equated to lawlessness and trickery since 1578-1579.

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