Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.


involving secrecy and plotting. A great deal of cloak-and-dagger stuff goes on in political circles. A lot of cloak-and-dagger activity was involved in the appointment of the director.

look daggers at someone

Fig. to give someone a dirty look. Tom must have been mad at Ann from the way he was looking daggers at her. Don't you dare look daggers at me! Don't even look cross-eyed at me!
See also: dagger, look

shoot daggers at somebody

also look daggers at somebody
to look very angrily at someone I put a cigarette in my mouth and saw her shooting daggers at me from all the way across the room.
See also: dagger, shoot


cloak-and-dagger behaviour is when people behave in a very secret way, often when it is not really necessary
Usage notes: A cloak is a type of long, loose coat and a dagger is a small sharp knife used as a weapon. In 17th century Spanish theatre, cloak-and-dagger was worn by a dishonest character in the play.
(always before noun) Is all this cloak-and-dagger stuff necessary? Why can't we just meet in a café like everyone else?

be at daggers drawn

  (British & Australian)
if two people or groups are at daggers drawn, they are angry and ready to fight or argue with each other
Usage notes: A dagger is a sharp pointed knife that was used in the past as a weapon.
(often + with ) Local residents are at daggers drawn with the council over rubbish collection. (often + over ) The two countries have several times been at daggers drawn over the future of the island.
See look daggers at
See also: dagger, drawn

look daggers at somebody

to look very angrily at someone I suddenly noticed David looking daggers at me and thought I'd better shut up.
See also: dagger, look

daggers drawn, at

Also, with daggers drawn. About to or ready to fight, as in Are Felix and Oscar still at daggers drawn over the rent? Although daggers today are rarely if ever used to avenge an insult or issue a challenge to a duel, this idiom remains current. Its figurative use dates from about 1800.
See also: dagger

look daggers

Glare, stare fiercely, as in When she started to discuss their finances, he looked daggers at her. This metaphoric term, likening an angry expression to a dagger's thrust, dates from ancient times and has appeared in English since about 1600.
See also: dagger, look


and bull-dagger and bulldyker
n. a lesbian, especially if aggressive or masculine. (Rude and derogatory.) Some old bulldiker strutted in and ordered a beer and a chaser. She was described by her friends as a “bull-dagger,” and I can’t imagine what her enemies called her.



look daggers at

To glare at angrily or hatefully.
See also: dagger, look
References in classic literature ?
Somebody will apply for that reward pretty promptly, and I'll show you the thief and the dagger both very soon afterward.
Pure I came to him whom Heaven bestowed upon me, pure I shall leave him; and at the worst bathed in my own chaste blood and in the foul blood of the falsest friend that friendship ever saw in the world;" and as she uttered these words she paced the room holding the unsheathed dagger, with such irregular and disordered steps, and such gestures that one would have supposed her to have lost her senses, and taken her for some violent desperado instead of a delicate woman.
This scene lasted but a few seconds: the shark returned, and, turning on his back, prepared himself for cutting the Indian in two, when I saw Captain Nemo rise suddenly, and then, dagger in hand, walk straight to the monster, ready to fight face to face with him.
Then Grimaud, lifting the dagger from the pool of blood which was gliding along the room, to the horror of all present, made a sign to the host to follow him, paid him with a generosity worthy of his master and again mounted his horse.
The brass dagger lay flat and gleaming a yard or so away.
He had brought a long-sword and a dagger for me, and thus armed we set out upon the return journey to my palace.
Then my head came above the deck and I saw Thurid, dagger in hand, leaping toward me.
In the second act there was scenery representing tombstones, there was a round hole in the canvas to represent the moon, shades were raised over the footlights, and from horns and contrabass came deep notes while many people appeared from right and left wearing black cloaks and holding things like daggers in their hands.
He snatched his dagger from his harness; but already Astok had left the deck of the Kalksus, and he knew that before he could overtake him, should he dispatch Vas Kor, he would be killed by the Dusarian warriors, who now were thick upon the deck.
Peter felt for his dagger till his hand gripped it.
She thrust in her hand and drew out a small, curiously shaped dagger of fine blue steel and a roll of silken cord.
I begin with a dreadful vacancy in my eyes, and a hollow moaning in my voice: 'Is this a dagger that I see before me--?
asked Father Brown, still staring at the dagger in his hand.
The Diamond fell into the possession of Tippoo, Sultan of Seringapatam, who caused it to be placed as an ornament in the handle of a dagger, and who commanded it to be kept among the choicest treasures of his armoury.
So he himself had often believed at first, until his eyes became used to the posts, bearing the dagger that slew Wat Tyler, in the City of London shield.