drop the gloves

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drop the gloves

1. In ice hockey, to engage in or prepare for a fistfight, i.e., by discarding one's gloves immediately beforehand. In an effort to keep this game under control, referees are getting in between players, warning them not to drop their gloves. With tension rising between them all night, the two players dropped the gloves as soon as the whistle blew.
2. By extension, to engage in or prepare for any fight, dispute, or confrontation in which the participants' actions or sentiments are unrestrained or unmitigated. The two presidential candidates dropped their gloves at the debate last night. A spokeswoman said the video game company was prepared to drop the gloves to combat online piracy.
See also: drop, glove
References in classic literature ?
The lady was not supposed to do anything in return; she might at most smile upon her knight or drop her glove, that he might be made happy by picking it up.