wave the white flag

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Verb[edit]

wave the white flag

  1. (in military combat) To indicate to an opposing force that one is surrendering.
    • 1900, Arthur Conan Doyle, The Great Boer War, ch. 30:
      Then it was seen how perilous was the situation of the Boer snipers. . . . There was no escape for them save across the open. It says much for their courage that they took that perilous choice rather than wave the white flag, which would have ensured their safety.
  2. (figuratively) To yield, give up, or quit.
    • 1911, O Henry, "The Day We Celebrate" in Sixes and Sevens:
      I started in with a fine left-hander on his right eye. Liverpool had been a fighter once, but dissipation and bad company had taken the nerve out of him. In ten minutes I had him lying on the sand waving the white flag.
    • 1951 May 21, "The Press: Fog Cutter," Time (retrieved 25 April 2014):
      Last week the Herald waved the white flag, editorialized: "In view of the Professor's unfortunate exposé of Boston newspaper punditing, we have little alternative but to follow his advice."
    • 2014 Feb. 24, "Bobby Jindal After Meeting With Obama" (video), New York Times (retrieved 25 April 2014):
      The Louisiana governor accused the president of “waving the white flag” on the American economy.

Synonyms[edit]

  • ((military) indicate that one is surrendering): capitulate
  • ((figurative) yield, give up, or quit): capitulate

References[edit]