extend the olive branch


extend the olive branch
also, extend an olive branch


  • to make an offer of peace or settlement.
  • to symbolizes willingness to end conflict.
  • a gesture to make amends after disagreement.
  • an invitation to resume friendly relations.
  • the first step towards restoring harmony.

Example Sentences

  1. After the argument, John decided to extend the olive branch and contact his friend to bury the hatchet.
  2. The new president extended an olive branch to neighboring countries in hopes of improving diplomatic relations.
  3. During negotiations, each side took turns extending the olive branch to try and reach a compromise.
  4. Billy decides to extend an olive branch to his sister on her birthday in an effort to patch things up after their fight.

Origin and History

The idiom “extend the olive branch” first appeared in ancient times and cultures and has come to signify an offer of peace or reconciliation. It has biblical origins, with its earliest record dating back to ancient Greek and Roman mythology.

In Greek mythology, the olive tree was sacred to the goddess Athena and seen as a symbol of prosperity and peace. Olive branches were often worn as a sign of victory. When Athens held a contest with Poseidon to be its patron, Athena won by offering the first olive tree.

In ancient Rome, olive branches were used as symbols of diplomacy and peace negotiations. When enemies made peace, they would hold up an olive branch. The Roman god Mars, who represented war, was sometimes depicted with an olive branch to symbolize peace.

The earliest biblical reference is in Genesis 8:11, after the Great Flood. Noah sends out a dove and returns with an olive leaf in its beak, showing that the waters have receded from the earth. This came to represent the peace that God made with humanity.

The tradition continued in early Christianity, with olive branches depicted together with doves, representing the Holy Spirit. Writers like Tertullian and St. Augustine connected the dove’s olive branch in Genesis to spiritual concepts like baptism and eternal peace.

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