come to blows

come to blows

Meaning

  • to start fighting
  • to get into a fight or a serious argument with someone
  • used to refer to the beginning of a fight between two groups or parties

Come to blows” is an idiom that suggests physical violence. The idea is that two people get into a fight about something and come to blows or end up fighting with each other. This idiom is mostly used playfully to express one’s disagreement and fight. Sometimes the idiom “came to blows” is used in the same way as fighting or quarrels.

Example Sentences

  1. I’m glad we were able to resolve this disagreement without coming to blows.
  2. While visiting family in Scotland, my uncle came to blows with my grandfather over who was the better singer.
  3. I was surprised to see my husband and his ex-wife come to blows at their son’s baseball game.
  4. Come on, let’s not come to blows over this issue. You need to realize that I am right about this one!
  5. If you don’t back off about my choice of clothing, we’re going to come to blows.
  6. I could tell that the couple was just about to come to blows over who was going to get the last slice of pizza.
  7. Demonstrators nearly came to blows with the Scotland Yard Police during the rally.

Origin

The origin of the phrase “come to blows” is believed to be in the 18th century, where it was first recorded in 1799. It can also be found in Charles Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby (1838–39) and Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native (1878).

There are two main theories for why this idiom originated. 

The first is that it originates from professional boxing matches in the late 18th century, where pugilists would come to blows when they fought.

The second theory originates from duels between rival gangs, specifically in Edinburgh in 1786. These duels would always lead to a fight between the gangs.

After the Greeks introduced this style of boxing into the Olympic Games, participants were no longer allowed to hit their opponents in the face. But as one might imagine, even with such limitations, boxers would sometimes break the rules and continue the fight by punching each other in the face anyway—this is where we get our idiom “come to blows” from.

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