chuck up the sponge

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chuck up the sponge (third-person singular simple present chucks up the sponge, present participle chucking up the sponge, simple past and past participle chucked up the sponge)

  1. (dated) To quit; to give up; to admit defeat.
    • 1916, Pamphlets on the European War - Volume 26, page 10:
      The fighting spirit of the German army is supplied by the officer and N. C. O. It has been proved that when a German soldier sees his bayonet his fighting value is finished — he "chucks up the sponge."
    • 1918, Dixhuit, Safety in Trench Warfare for Yourself & Your Men:
      A bombing attack along a trench can only be met by a bomb defence. The bayonet is practically neglected by the Bosche, except when our men compel him to use it. He is not much good with it, and if his bomb defence fails him, usually chucks up the sponge.
    • 1919, Crosbie Garstin, The Mud Larks, page 136:
      The moment Hindenburg chucks up the sponge off goes William to Chelsea Hospital, there to spend the autumn of his days pitching the yarn and displaying his honourable scars gained in many a bloody battle in the mule lines.
    • 1962, Robert Tressell, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, →ISBN, page 322:
      For my part, I think the best thing to do is to chuck up the sponge at once; the company is practically bankrupt now, and the longer we waits the worser it will be.
    • 1974, Jennifer Sherwood & Nikolaus Pevsner, Oxfordshire, page 72:
      July 1960: Oxford City Council reverses all reversals, chucks up the sponge, and asks Minister for "inquiry at large".