Gloves Are Off and Take the Gloves Off — Meaning & Origin

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

The expression the gloves are off means that someone’s ready for a serious fight or competition, whether literally or figuratively, but it’s usually used figuratively these days. Curious about where this idiom comes from and how to use it? Keep reading this guide and learn to put some punch in your idiomatic repertoire.

The Gloves Are Off Meaning Explained

Gloves Are Off and Take the Gloves Off — Meaning Origin

When we say the gloves are off, we’re just referring to the moment when we’re ready to confront a situation without holding back. It’s the verbal equivalent of rolling up your sleeves and getting down to business.

You could use it when faced with a challenge, either from an obstacle or from another person. It’s like saying, “It’s time to fight dirty,” but not as dramatic.

The Gloves Are Off Origin and Etymology

Gloves are Off Ngram
Gloves are off usage trend.

The phrase gloves are off came out of the world of boxing, which is not surprising given that boxers indeed wear gloves. However, in the context of matches, if a boxer removes their gloves, it signifies their readiness to engage in a more aggressive fight without any safeguards. This phrase eventually transitioned into everyday language to describe when a situation has become far more serious or aggressive.

Synonyms to Use for the Gloves Are Off

If the gloves are off isn’t working for you or doesn’t fit the context at hand, consider these synonymous alternatives:

  • The battle lines are drawn
  • It’s war
  • The fight is on
  • No mercy
  • It’s game on
  • Draw a line in the sand
  • No holds barred
  • Ready to rumble
  • It’s on

The Gloves Are Off Examples in a Sentence

Gloves Are Off and Take the Gloves Off — Meaning Origin 1

  • With the competition for the promotion heating up, it seemed the gloves were off between the two colleagues.
  • In the debate, once the gloves were off, the true differences in their policies became clear.
  • When it comes to protecting my children, the gloves are always off.
  • Seeing the environmental destruction, my activist cousin declared that the gloves were off in the fight against pollution in her province.
  • With the market so competitive, the gloves are off in the tech industry, and everything is up for grabs.
  • When it was revealed he’d been stealing from the company, the gloves were off, and no one held back.
  • Did you see the game last night? The gloves were off for half the final round!
  • When they insulted his family, Darren told them the gloves were off.
  • The gloves are off in the race for the best holiday decorations on our street, and I intend to win.
  • Once she realized her best friend had betrayed her, the gloves were off.

Ding, Ding, Ding!

And that’s the bell ringing on the phrase the gloves are off. After reading this guide, you should be ready to use this punchy phrase to add some dramatic flair to your conversations or writing. I’ve got a ton of other fun idioms just like this one, so take a moment and check out our site!

Want to know more idioms? Check out some others we covered:

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