lion


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beard the lion

To confront risk or danger head on, especially for the sake of possible personal gain. Refers to a proverb based on a Bible story from I Samuel, in which a shepherd, David, hunts down a lion that stole a lamb, grasps it by the beard, and kills it. Risks very often don't turn out well, but if you don't face them and beard the lion, you will never achieve the success you truly desire.
See also: beard, lion

the lion's den

A particularly dangerous, hostile, or oppressive place or situation, especially due to an angry or sinister person or group of people within it. I felt like I was walking into the lion's den when I went in front of the board for my annual review.
See also: den

a live dog is better than a dead lion

It is better to be a living coward than a dead hero. I called for help rather than running into the burning building because a live dog is better than a dead lion.
See also: better, dead, dog, lion, live

ass in a lion's skin

A blustering fool. The "ass" here is a donkey, trying to portray itself as a strong and powerful lion. Can you believe the boss yelled at me because he thought—wrongly—that I'd handed in my budget late? Geez, he's such an ass in a lion's skin!
See also: ass, skin

escape the bear and fall to the lion

To avoid a frightening or problematic situation, only to end up in a worse one later. A: "After I swerved to avoid hitting a pedestrian, I wound up in oncoming traffic, and my car was totalled." B: "That's awful. You escaped the bear and fell to the lion."
See also: and, bear, escape, fall, lion

put (one's) head in the lion's mouth

To subject oneself to danger or trouble. I really put my head in the lion's mouth by sneaking out of the house late at night. I think you're putting your head in the lion's mouth by driving in such torrential rain.
See also: head, mouth, put

beard the lion in his den

 and beard someone in his den
Prov. to confront someone on his or her own territory. I spent a week trying to reach Mr. Toynbee by phone, but his secretary always told me he was too busy to talk to me. Today I walked straight into his office and bearded the lion in his den. If the landlord doesn't contact us soon, we'll have to beard him in his den.
See also: beard, den, lion

Better be the head of a dog than the tail of a lion.

Prov. It is better to be the leader of a less prestigious group than to be a subordinate in a more prestigious one. Joe: I can be the headmaster of a small secondary school, or I can be a teacher at a famous university. Which job offer do you think I should take? Nancy: Better be the head of a dog than the tail of a lion. A professional writing workshop had asked Bob to join, but he elected to stay with his amateur group, since he thought it better to be the head of a dog than the tail of a lion.
See also: better, dog, head, lion, of, tail

lion's share of something

Fig. the largest portion of something. I earn a lot, but the lion's share goes for taxes. The lion's share of the surplus cheese goes to school cafeterias.
See also: of, share

March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb,

 and In like a lion, out like a lamb.
Prov. The month of March usually starts with cold, unpleasant weather, but ends mild and pleasant. (Either part of the proverb can be used alone.) March certainly is coming in like a lion this year; there's been a snowstorm every day this week. Jill: Today is March twenty-fifth, and it's beautiful and warm outside, when just two weeks ago, everything was covered with ice. Jane: In like a lion and out like a lamb, all right.
See also: and, come, goes, lamb, like, march, out

*strong as a horse

 and *strong as an ox; *strong as a lion
Cliché [of a living creature] very strong. (*Also: as ~.) Jill: My car broke down; it's sitting out on the street. Jane: Get Linda to help you push it; she's as strong as a horse. The athlete was strong as an ox; he could lift his own weight with just one hand. The football player was strong as a lion.
See also: horse, strong

throw someone to the wolves

Fig. to sacrifice someone to save the rest; to abandon someone to harm. (Fig. on the image of giving one person to the wolves to eat so the rest can get away.) Don't try to throw me to the wolves. I'll tell the truth about the whole affair! The investigation was going to be rigorous and unpleasant, and I could see they were going to throw someone to the wolves.
See also: throw, wolves

throw somebody to the wolves

to put someone in a situation where there is nothing to protect them Are illegal foreign workers going to be thrown to the wolves, or will we try to regulate their employers?
See also: throw, wolves

beard somebody in their den

  also beard the lion in their den
to visit an important person in the place where they work, in order to tell or ask them something unpleasant A group of journalists bearded the director in his den to ask how he was going to deal with the crisis. Who's going to beard the lion in her den and explain what's gone wrong?
See also: beard, den

the lion's share

the biggest part of something The lion's share of the museum's budget goes on special exhibitions.
See beard in den
See also: share

feed/throw somebody to the lions

to cause someone to be in a situation where they are criticized strongly or treated badly and to not try to protect them No one prepared me for the audience's hostility - I really felt I'd been fed to the lions.
See also: feed, lion

the lions' den

an unpleasant situation in which a person or group of people criticizes you or your ideas It's your turn for the lions' den. Gordon wants to see you in his office now.
See also: den

throw somebody to the wolves

  (British, American & Australian) also leave somebody to the wolves (Australian)
to cause someone to be in a situation where they are criticized strongly or treated badly and to not try to protect them No one warned me what sort of people I would be dealing with. I felt I'd been thrown to the wolves.
See also: throw, wolves

beard the lion

Confront a danger, take a risk, as in I went straight to my boss, bearding the lion. This term was originally a Latin proverb based on a Bible story (I Samuel 17:35) about the shepherd David, who pursued a lion that had stolen a lamb, caught it by its beard, and killed it. By Shakespeare's time it was being used figuratively, as it is today. Sometimes the term is amplified to beard the lion in his den, which may combine the allusion with another Bible story, that of Daniel being shut in a lions' den for the night (Daniel 6:16-24).
See also: beard, lion

lion's share

The greater part or most of something, as in Whenever they won a doubles match, Ethel claimed the lion's share of the credit, or As usual, Uncle Bob took the lion's share of the cake. This expression alludes to Aesop's fable about a lion, who got all of a kill because its fellow hunters, an ass, fox, and wolf, were afraid to claim their share. [Late 1700s]
See also: share

throw to the wolves

Also, throw to the dogs or lions . Send to a terrible fate; sacrifice someone, especially so as to save oneself. For example, Leaving him with hostile reporters was throwing him to the wolves, or If Bob doesn't perform as they expect, they'll throw him to the lions. All three hyperbolic terms allude to the ravenous appetite of these animals, which presumably will devour the victim. The first term comes from Aesop's fable about a nurse who threatens to throw her charge to the wolves if the child does not behave. [First half of 1900s]
See also: throw, wolves

lion’s share

n. the largest portion. I earn a lot, but the lion’s share goes for taxes.
See also: share

lion's share

The greatest or best part.
See also: share
References in classic literature ?
Now we soon learned that there were many lions in the rocks around, for we heard their roaring and were much afraid, all except Umslopogaas, who feared nothing.
Umslopogaas," said Nada, "I wish that I had one of the little lions for a dog.
Now listen, and I'll tell you something: the day may come when the lions get sick.
The keeper, then, in full detail, and bit by bit, described the end of the contest, exalting to the best of his power and ability the valour of Don Quixote, at the sight of whom the lion quailed, and would not and dared not come out of the cage, although he had held the door open ever so long; and showing how, in consequence of his having represented to the knight that it was tempting God to provoke the lion in order to force him out, which he wished to have done, he very reluctantly, and altogether against his will, had allowed the door to be closed.
The lion stood with wide, round eyes awaiting the attack, ready to rear upon his hind feet and receive this rash creature with blows that could crush the skull of a buffalo.
That's why he went over so easily," remarked the Lion.
I've heard that said before," remarked the Lion, yawning till he showed two great rows of sharp white teeth; "but that does not keep me from being frightened whenever I go into battle.
And came the time once more when the witch-doctor no longer doubted the outcome of the duel, yet his first judgment was reversed, for now he knew that the jungle god would slay Simba and the old black was even more terrified of his own impending fate at the hands of the victor than he had been by the sure and sudden death which the triumphant lion would have meted out to him.
Now, indeed, was Numa, the lion, reduced to the harmlessness of Bara, the deer.
And the great lion lay and roared in helplessness, and at each prod exposed his nose more and lifted it higher, until, at the end, his red tongue ran out between his fangs and licked the boot resting none too gently on his neck, and, after that, licked the broomstick that had administered all the punishment.
The lion was halfway across the clearing when I heard a slight sound behind me.
Numa selected a sleek, fat filly and his flaming eyes burned greedily as they feasted upon her, for Numa, the lion, loves scarce anything better than the meat of Pacco, perhaps because Pacco is, of all the grass-eaters, the most difficult to catch.
Alice had no more breath for talking, so they trotted on in silence, till they came in sight of a great crowd, in the middle of which the Lion and Unicorn were fighting.
Anybody could whip a lion to a standstill with an ordinary stick.
Three metamorphoses of the spirit do I designate to you: how the spirit becometh a camel, the camel a lion, and the lion at last a child.