go to the mattresses

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From Mario Puzo's gangster novel The Godfather (1969). Those involved in such a conflict might be expected to stay in hideouts where they would sleep on mattresses rather than in beds.


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go to the mattresses

  1. (idiomatic) To go to war; to use ruthless tactics; to act without restraint.
    • 1969, Mario Puzo, The Godfather, Putnam, p.132:
      I want Sollozzo. If not, it's all-out war. We'll go to the mattresses.
    • 1988, Glen Waggoner, "Sports: Collusion Is Over, but Excess Is Back," New York Times, 18 Dec. (retrieved 21 Sep. 2008):
      They will have to go to the mattresses; that is they will have to risk a long ugly strike.
    • 2008, "Transcript: CNN LARRY KING LIVE—Interview with Senator Hillary Clinton," CNN analyst Jamal Simmons speaking, 21 Apr.:
      Now, when you're fighting Republicans . . . Democrats are all rallied around and ready to go ahead and go to the mattresses.

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