Boxing is fist-fighting sport that takes place inside a roped ring with opponents wearing padded gloves. Each fighter scores points by hitting their foe or knocking them out for a count of ten.
boxing idioms and expressions
Many idioms originated from boxing and here is a list of them with pictures and examples.
- below the belt
meaning – say or do something unfair/against the rules
example – Eddie really upset me today, he made a few below the belt comments.
- blow-by-blow account
meaning – a detailed description of an event
example – Sit down, I want a blow-by-blow account of your date last night.
- come out swinging
meaning – go immediately of the offensive
example – The young boxer came out swinging and knocked out his opponent in 30 seconds.
- come to blows
meaning – start arguing/fighting after a disagreement
example – It all came to blows when Christine found out who keyed her car.
- down and out
meaning – a person with no money/job/prospects
example – The guy I was seeing turned out to be a bit of a down and out.
- draw first blood
meaning – the first person to score/succeed/attack
example – The greens have drawn first blood, this is going to be one hell of a match.
- fighting chance
meaning – a small possibility of success after a struggle
example – I want to give my marriage a fighting chance, so I’ve agreed to stop drinking.
- hang up one’s boots
meaning – retire from playing a sport/working
example – My grandad has finally hung up his boots after 50 years in the Royal Navy.
- have the upper hand
meaning – gain an advantage
example – My brother always has the upper hand when we fight. He is much bigger than me.
- in someone’s corner
meaning – give someone your full support
example – He’s innocent, why am I the only one in his corner?
- knock oneself out
meaning – go ahead, feel free to do something with no restrictions
example – The bar is free lads and lasses, knock yourselves out.
- low blow
meaning – an unfair attack
example – Don’t humiliate him in front of his new girlfriend, it’s a low blow.
- no holds barred
meaning – no rules/restrictions
example – I went to a no holds barred wrestling match. It was brutal, one guy got his ear bitten off.
- on the ropes
meaning – close to defeat/collapse
example – The old pro is on the ropes. It looks like the young boxer will beat him.
- out for the count
meaning – be unconscious or in a very deep sleep
example – McDonald hit Derry so hard in the first round, he was out for the count.
- pull punches
meaning – be less severe/violent
example – Give me your honest opinion, don’t pull punches.
- roll with the punches
meaning – cope with/adapt to difficulties
example – I’m just rolling with the punches until I get another job.
- saved by the bell
meaning – rescued from trouble at the very last moment
example – I was saved by the bell. The gang were about to beat me, then a policeman arrived.
- take something on the chin
meaning – accept that something bad has happened and don’t complain about it
example – Johnny wasn’t picked for the team, He took it on the chin and is going to train harder.
- the gloves are off
meaning – become aggressive/hostile/show no mercy
example – I can hear the neighbours screaming, the gloves are off.
- throw in the towel
meaning – surrender, give up, admit defeat
example – My new business was failing so I threw in the towel.
boxing idioms and expressions with pictures
You can download a table of boxing idioms and expressions below.
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