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

sports idioms and sayings - boxing idioms and expressions
boxing idioms - below the belt
blow by blow account
boxing idioms - come out swinging
come to blows
down and out
draw first blood
fighting chance
boxing idioms - hang up one’s boots
boxing idioms - have the upper hand
in someone's corner
knock yourself out
low blow
no holds barred
on the ropes
boxing idioms - out for the count
boxing idioms - pull punches
boxing idioms - roll with the punches
boxing idioms - saved by the bell
take on the chin
the gloves are off
boxing idioms - throw in the towel

You can download a table of boxing idioms and expressions below.

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