Give no quarter

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Give no quarter is a phrase that started with a literal meaning and eventually became an idiom with a figurative meaning. We will look at the evolution of the idiom give no quarter, where the phrase came from and what it has come to mean. We will also look at some examples of its use in sentences.

To give no quarter means to show no mercy, to award no clemency. To give no quarter originally applied to military situations. If a victor was not willing to take care of prisoners he would warn that he would give no quarter. To house and feed a prisoner one would give them quarters are quarter them, so to refuse to quarter men who surrendered meant that they would be put to death. A red flag was sometimes raised to signal the intent to give no quarter, presumably because red is the color of blood. It became illegal to grant no quarter with the Hague Convention of 1907. Eventually, give no quarter took on a figurative meaning of showing no mercy, usually applied in negotiation situations. Related phrases are gives no quarter, gave no quarter, giving no quarter.


“Tonight you saw two really good programs go at each other with neither team taking no quarter.” (The Register-Mail)

These games also turn serious when sweeping threats are made, and we believe that no quarter should be given when the perpetuators are discovered. (The Herald-Mail)

In the wake of his second debate performance, in which his main objective seemed to be solidifying his appeal to the angrier sections of the GOP base, Trump is returning to his original persona as a political Visigoth bent on sacking and pillaging the capital city, with its Republican inhabitants receiving no quarter unless they throw open the gates to him and pledge unconditional allegiance to the new warlord. (New York Magazine)

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