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 (third-person singular simple present goes to the mattresses, present participle going to the mattresses, simple past went to the mattresses, past participle gone to the mattresses)

  1. (idiomatic) To go to war; to use ruthless tactics; to act without restraint.
    • 1969, Mario Puzo, The Godfather, Putnam, page 132:
      I want Sollozzo. If not, it's all-out war. We'll go to the mattresses.
    • 1988 December 18, Glen Waggoner, “Sports: Collusion Is Over, but Excess Is Back”, in New York Times, retrieved 21 September 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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