Wave the white flag

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Wave the white flag is an idiom with ancient roots. We will examine the meaning of the common idiom wave the white flag, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

To wave the white flag means to surrender, to give up, to admit defeat. For instance, one who decides to stop pursuing a course of action may be said to wave the white flag, meaning give up. The symbol of the white flag was known to have been used during the Han dynasty in China, but was also mentioned as being used in a Roman battle in 109 A.D. The white flag may have been used to signal surrender or a cease-fire in battle because the color of white was easy to see in the confusion of war, especially if waved. The proper use of white flags to mean surrender or a cease-fire has been codified in the Geneva Conventions. Eventually, the term came to be used figuratively in circumstances other than battle. Related phrases are waves the white flag, waved the white flag, waving the white flag.


With a bunch of bumps and bruises sandwiched around a stinging shutout loss against a bitter rival, one probably thought Griffiths might wave the white flag. (Courier Post)

In the UK, it’s about 62 percent, and the virus is about to wave the white flag. (New York Post)

But Sanders has said he was not prepared to wave the white flag just yet, and when asked by anchor Anderson Cooper what he would do next to increase the minimum wage, he insisted that it is still “absolutely on my agenda.” (Newsweek)

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