all is fair in love and war

all is fair in love and war


  • 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.

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.

A 7 Thoughts

7 Thoughts

I think, that, “all is fair in love and war” is the same as, “when pigs fly” they’re both idioms aren’t they?

- CoCo August 21, 2021

If someone says nothing is fair.

- Anonymous February 11, 2021

All is fair in love and war meaning: This is a reference the to elimination of the general boundaries that normally exist between two people when love is established. As we are all aware that War will brutally remove all boundaries and guidelines; the irony that love can bring us this close to every end of emotional perceptions, and cause us to make irrational decisions that exceed our normal self expected definition. The force that changes everything we understand, as war also could.

- Marc Costello February 10, 2021

Love hasn’t ever been fair, starting with Adam and Eve. War is unfair with normally the strong preying on the weak. Rules for such are what two sides make them if any and usually created by the stronger.

- Anonymous January 27, 2021

It means that every action you take in either love and war, the action is justified and you have to follow a set of (nonexistent) rules.

- Kakaih March 25, 2019

Origin of this phase is by John Lyly in 1457

- Nonhle January 30, 2019

If someone says nothing is fair in love and war what does it mean?

- Busayomi September 15, 2018

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