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(the) Dunkirk spirit

An attitude of strength, determination, and camaraderie, especially by the British people as a whole, during a difficult and adverse time or situation. Refers to the evacuation of allied troops from Dunkirk, France, carried out by several civilian boats during World War II. Primarily heard in UK. Our country faces the worst economic crises in decades, but I remain confident that, with a bit of the Dunkirk spirit, we can come out of this stronger than ever.
See also: spirit

a kindred spirit

A person who shares several or many fundamental beliefs, ideas, convictions, sentiments, attitudes, and/or interests with oneself. It didn't take long to figure out that John is a kindred spirit, and we've been the closest of friends ever since we met.
See also: kindred, spirit

lose (one's) spirit

To lose one's vigor, energy, hope, or resolve; to become resigned or complacent. The underdog team had a shot at winning the game early on, but they seem to have lost their spirit at this point. You've come so far with your law degree. Don't lose spirit now!
See also: lose, spirit

the spirit of the law

The intended meaning of a law by those who wrote it, as opposed to a literal interpretation thereof. It's quite apparent that the CEOs of these companies, while technically acting legally, have violated the spirit of the law in order to further their own profits at the expense of their clients and employees.
See also: law, of, spirit

free spirit

Someone who does not conform to social norms or expectations. Maria is too much of a free spirit to be working in a stuffy corporate environment.
See also: free, spirit

guiding spirit

Someone who is influential or an inspiration to others. Amy's mother was always her guiding spirit during difficult decisions.
See also: guide, spirit

as the spirit moves (one)

When one feels compelled to do something. Laura's grades are so bad because she only comes to class as the spirit moves her. I usually stay home on weekends, but I'll go out as the spirit moves me.
See also: move, spirit

in good spirits

Fig. happy and cheerful; positive and looking toward the future, despite unhappy circumstances. The patient is in good spirits and that will speed her recovery. Tom wasn't in very good spirits after he heard the bad news.
See also: good, spirit

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Prov. People cannot always do what they know they ought to do.; People are not always physically capable of doing what they are willing to do. (Biblical.) Alan: Have you started the diet your doctor recommended? Fred: The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
See also: but, flesh, spirit, weak

spirit someone or something away (somewhere)

to sneak someone or something away to another place. The police spirited the prisoner away before the crowd assembled in front of the jail. They spirited away the celebrity.
See also: away, spirit

spirit someone or something off (to some place)

to hurry someone or something away, presumably unnoticed, to another place. Aunt Jane spirited the children off to bed at half-past eight. She spirited off the leftover roast beef.
See also: off, spirit

That's the spirit!

That is the right attitude and preferred evidence of high motivation. A: I am sure I can do it! B: That's the spirit!

(when) the spirit moves you

when you want to or feel ready to When the spirit moved her, she would work through the night. Public opinion can take a sharp turn any time the spirit moves them.
See also: move, spirit

a free spirit

someone who does what they want and does not feel limited by the usual rules of social behaviour His brothers describe Nick as something of a free spirit, unconventional and adventurous.
See also: free, spirit

a guiding light/spirit

someone who influences a person or group and shows them how to do something successfully She was the founder of the company, and for forty years its guiding light.
See also: guide, light

the moving spirit

someone who starts an important organization or course of action (often + behind ) Born in Nkroful, Ghana, he was the moving spirit behind the Charter of African States.
See also: moving, spirit

as/when the spirit moves you

if you do something when the spirit moves you, you only do it when you want to He'll cook now and again, when the spirit moves him.
See also: move, spirit

enter/get into the spirit of something

to show that you are happy to be at a social event by talking to a lot of people, dancing, or wearing special clothes 'Hey, I like your hat!' 'Well, I thought I'd better enter into the spirit of things.' I'm afraid I was feeling too ill to really get into the spirit of the evening.
See also: enter, of, spirit

in good spirits

Also, in high spirits. Happy, cheerful, as in Jane was in good spirits today. [Early 1700s] However, high spirits also can indicate liveliness and vivacity, as in The children were in high spirits at the prospect of a trip to the circus.
See also: good, spirit

kindred spirit

Also, kindred soul. An individual with the same beliefs, attitudes or feelings as oneself. For example, Dean and I are kindred spirits when it comes to spending money-we're both tight. [Mid-1800s]
See also: kindred, spirit

spirit away

Carry off mysteriously or secretly, as in The police found that the documents had been spirited away from the office. This term derives from the noun spirit, in the sense of "a supernatural being such as a ghost." [Second half of 1600s]
See also: away, spirit

spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, the

One would like to undertake something but hasn't the energy or strength to do so. For example, Another set of tennis? The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Today often used as a rueful admission of weariness or other physical weakness, this idiom was first recorded in the New Testament (Matthew 26:41), where Jesus tells his disciples: "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." A modern equivalent is I would if I could but I can't.
See also: but, flesh, spirit, willing

spirit away

To carry someone or something off mysteriously or secretly: The lawyers spirited away the documents. In the folktale, an old giant spirited the children away.
See also: away, spirit
References in classic literature ?
He rose: but finding that the Spirit made towards the window, clasped his robe in supplication.
Bear but a touch of my hand there,' said the Spirit, laying it upon his heart,' and you shall be upheld in more than this.
If I will vow never more to harm the flowers you may love, will you go back to your own people and leave me and my Spirits to work our will on all the other flowers that bloom?
And now go forth, and begin your task; my Spirits shall not harm you, and I will wait till it is done before I blight another flower.
You are my evil spirit," answered Owen, much excited,--"you and the hard, coarse world
But I don't know whether you will condescend to such a task," said she, laughing, "now that you are so taken up with the notion of putting spirit into machinery.
You will now understand the view I take of the tie which unites the young spirits of our children at the bright outset of their lives.
To all outward appearance two perfectly commonplace children, we were mysteriously united by some kindred association of the spirit in her and the spirit in me, which not only defied discovery by our young selves, but which lay too deep for investigation by far older and far wiser heads than ours.
Sidney's very complicated tale of adventures in love and war, much longer than any of its successors, is by no means free from artificiality, but it finely mirrors his own knightly spirit and remains a permanent English classic.
As to the fact of the line of conduct I choose to adopt towards the individual present, you ought to be proud of my showing a proper spirit.
Young flowers were whispering in melody To happy flowers that night - and tree to tree ; Fountains were gushing music as they fell In many a star-lit grove, or moon-lit dell ; Yet silence came upon material things - Fair flowers, bright waterfalls and angel wings - And sound alone that from the spirit sprang Bore burthen to the charm the maiden sang :
But this rule which leaves out of account the spirit of the army continually proves incorrect and is in particularly striking contrast to the facts when some strong rise or fall in the spirit of the troops occurs, as in all national wars.
Then he who is to be a really good and noble guardian of the State will require to unite in himself philosophy and spirit and swiftness and strength?
asketh the load-bearing spirit, that I may take it upon me and rejoice in my strength.
While my companion contemplated with a serious and satisfied spirit the magnificent appearances of things, I delighted in investigating their causes.