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handbags at ten paces

A confrontation or disagreement that is highly aggressive, emotionally expressive, and/or highly dramatic, but which does not end or result in violence. Used originally and primarily in reference to football (soccer) players, who would be sent off if they engaged in violent actions, the phrase is a play on the clichéd "pistols at ten paces," indicating a forthcoming pistol duel. Primarily heard in UK. It was handbags at ten paces between the two players, who had been verbally taunting one another throughout the match.
See also: handbag, pace, ten

put something through its paces

To give something a thorough testing or examination so as to evaluate its worth, ability, or functionality. I can't wait to take this new sports car out on the open road so I can put it through its paces! Whenever you're buying a piece of equipment second hand, it's best to put it through its paces before you hand over the money for it.
See also: pace, put

a change of pace

A variation in routine or activity. After working in sales for so long, John needed a change of pace, so he requested a transfer to the service department. I'm tired of takeout. How about we cook dinner for a change of pace?
See also: change, of, pace

at a snail's pace

 and at a snail's gallop
very slowly. Things are moving along at a snail's pace here, but we'll finish on time—have no fear. Poor old Wally is creeping at a snail's gallop because his car has a flat tire.
See also: pace

change of pace

an addition of some variety in one's life, routine, or abode. Going to the beach on the weekend will be a change of pace. The doctor says I need a change of pace from this cold climate.
See also: change, of, pace

It is the pace that kills.

Prov. Trying to do too much too fast is bad for you. Nancy: I hate college. Bill: Why? Is the subject material too difficult? Nancy: No, they just expect me to learn too much of it too fast. It is the pace that kills.
See also: kill, pace

keep pace

 (with someone or something)
1. Lit. to move at the same speed as someone, something, or an animal; to match someone or some creature pace for pace. The black horse was having a hard time keeping pace with the brown one. Tom runs very fast and I couldn't keep pace with him.
2. Fig. to manage to move, learn, change, etc., at the same rate as someone or something. Bill can't keep pace with the geometry class. You've just got to keep pace.
See also: keep, pace

pace around

 and pace about
to walk around nervously or anxiously. Stop pacing around and sit down. There is no need to pace about.
See also: around, pace

pace back and forth

 and pace up and down
to walk over and over the same short route nervously or anxiously. The leopard paced back and forth in its cage. I paced up and down, worrying about a variety of things.
See also: and, back, forth, pace

pace something

off to mark off a distance by counting the number of even strides taken while walking. The farmer paced a few yards off and pounded a stake into the soil. He paced off a few yards.

pace something

1. Lit. to measure a distance by counting the number of even strides taken while walking. He paced the distance out and wrote it down. He paced out the distance from the door to the mailbox.
2. Fig. to deal with a problem by pacing around. When she was upset, she walked and walked while she thought through her problem. When Ed came into the room, she was pacing a new crisis out. She usually paced out her anxiety.

pick up the pace

to speed up the tempo; to increase the rate that something is being done. We are going to have to pick up the pace of activity around here if we are to get the job done.
See also: pace, pick, up

put one through one's paces

 and put something through its paces
Fig. to give someone or something a thorough test; to show what someone or something can do. I brought the young gymnast out and put her through her paces.
See also: one, pace, put

a change of pace

a different activity than what came before People need to get up and move around at lunchtime - they need a change of pace, and a chance to socialize. He decided to take the role because it was a nice change of pace from his last few movies.
See also: change, of, pace

at a snail's pace

very slowly The action moves at a snail's pace in this film, as if all the characters were asleep.
Etymology: from the fact that a snail (a small animal with a round shell) moves very slowly
See also: pace

keep pace (with somebody/something)

to stay at the same level as someone or something We get regular pay raises that are supposed to keep pace with inflation.
See also: keep, pace

set the pace

to do something that establishes a standard What institutions set the pace for TV news? Our company is setting the pace for flexibility and responsiveness in the industry.
Etymology: based on the literal meaning of set the pace (to establish the speed at which a group moves)
See also: pace, set

put somebody/something through their paces

to test the ability or skill of a person or system This contest will really put you guys through your paces. Frank took the car for a drive through the mountains and really put it through its paces.
See also: pace, put

can't stand/take the pace

to be unable to do things well when you are under a lot of pressure If he can't stand the pace he shouldn't be doing the job - it's as simple as that.
See set the pace
See also: pace, stand

put somebody through their paces

to test someone's skills or knowledge This fitness contest will really put the guys through their paces.
See also: pace, put

set the pace

if someone sets the pace in a particular activity, they do it very well or very quickly and other people try to do the same (often + for ) America's reforms have set the pace for European finance ministers. For many years this company has set the pace in the communications industry.
See also: pace, set

at a snail's pace

very slowly
Usage notes: A snail is a small animal with a shell that moves very slowly.
The roads were full of traffic and we were travelling at a snail's pace.
See also: pace

break one's back

Also, break one's neck. Make a great effort, work very hard. For example, I've been breaking my back over this problem for the past week, or Don't break your neck to get there; we'll wait for you. Both versions of this expression, polite equivalents of break one's ass, transfer the literal fracture of one's back or neck to figurative exertion. However, break one's neck has the secondary connotation of proceeding with reckless speed, a sense also conveyed by the term breakneck pace. Originally this idiom alluded to literally breaking one's neck by rushing heedlessly along, but it has been used figuratively for the past 300 years. Also see break the back of.
See also: back, break

change of pace

A shift in normal routine, a variation in usual activities or pattern, as in She's smiling in that one photo, just for a change of pace, or After six hours at my desk I need a change of pace, so I'm going for a swim. This term originated in a number of sports where strategy can involve altering the speed of, for example, a pitched or struck ball or a horse's gait. By the mid-1900s it was being transferred to other enterprises.
See also: change, of, pace

keep pace

Also, keep up. Go at the same rate as others, not fall behind. For example, The teacher told his mother that Jimmy was not keeping up with the class. Shakespeare had the first term in A Midsummer Night's Dream (3:2): "My legs cannot keep pace with my desires." [Late 1500s]
See also: keep, pace

put someone through his or her paces

Test thoroughly to see what someone can do, as in We put the new programmer though her paces, and she passed with flying colors. The idiom can refer to things as well, as in When we put the electrical system through its paces, we blew a fuse. The expression alludes to testing a horse's ability in the various paces (trot, canter, and gallop). Its use referring to horses dates from the late 1700s; its figurative use was first recorded in 1871.
See also: pace, put

set the pace

Establish a standard for others to follow, as in Jim has set the pace for the department, exceeding the monthly quota every time. This expression comes from racing, where it is said of a horse that passes the others and leads the field. It was transferred to other activities in the early 1900s.
See also: pace, set

snail's pace

A very slow pace, as in They're making progress with testing the new vaccine, but at a snail's pace. [c. 1400]
See also: pace

pace out

or pace off
To measure some distance by counting the number of strides taken while walking across it: We paced out 100 feet when making the course for the race. The counselors paced the boundaries of the field out before marking them.
See also: out, pace

at a snail’s pace

and at a snail’s gallop
mod. very slowly. Poor old Willy is creeping at a snail’s gallop because his car has a flat tire. The building project is coming along at a snail’s pace.
See also: pace

keep pace

To stay even with others, as in a contest.
See also: keep, pace

pace (oneself)

To move or make progress at a sensible or moderate rate.

put (someone) through (someone's) paces

To cause to demonstrate ability or skill; test: The drama coach put her students through their paces before the first performance.
See also: pace, put

set the pace

1. To go at a speed that other competitors attempt to match or surpass.
2. To behave or perform in a way that others try to emulate.
See also: pace, set
References in classic literature ?
For an hour and a half or more we tramped on up the heather-fringed way, going so fast in our excitement that the bearers of Gagool's hammock could scarcely keep pace with us, and its occupant piped out to us to stop.
So saying, he swung his stout staff over his shoulder and trudged off, measuring his pace with that of the two nags.
I set off after Perry, though at a somewhat more decorous pace.
We shall hear anon," said Johnston quietly, and presently a young archer came running to say that the arrow had fallen twenty paces beyond the fourth wand.
He urged on his mare, and to his delight felt that she easily quickened her pace, and the thud of Gladiator's hoofs was again heard at the same distance away.
Seeing the boy scudding away at such a rapid pace, he very naturally concluded him to be the depredator; and shouting 'Stop thief
But there is no stopping then, for the old gentleman speaks stoutly to him, the horses mend their pace, and they are already at the garden-gate.
Yet this did not prevent me from feeling a little uncomfortable in his presence; and I proceeded to follow my pupils at a much quicker pace than before; though, perhaps, if Mr.
It was the same killing pace going in as coming out, and the Indian did not stand it as well as Kama.
Jimmie made an impatient gesture and quickened his pace.
The Draught-Mule replied, "I do not heed your threats; I only care for him who sits above you, and who quickens my pace with his whip, or holds me back with the reins.
Our pen, therefore, shall imitate the expedition which it describes, and our history shall keep pace with the travellers who are its subject.
From the girls and women near her, all swinging irons steadily but at high pace, came quick glances, and labor efficiency suffered to the extent of a score of suspended or inadequate movements.
and will bear with the pace of this poor jade, I shall be glad to ride on with you to the Warren, sir, and hold your horse when you dismount.
Deane at last, throwing himself backward, "the world goes on at a smarter pace now than it did when I was a young fellow.