shot across the bow(s)

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shot across the bow(s)

A physical or verbal attack meant to serve as a warning. It refers to a warning shot from the cannon of a ship. Her sharp retort was a shot across the bow, letting her boyfriend know that she would not tolerate his bad attitude.
See also: across, shot
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

a shot across the bows


a warning shot across the bows

COMMON A shot across the bows or a warning shot across the bows is something that someone does or says to show someone else that they are prepared to fight or compete with them, often if they continue to do what they are doing. `Bows' is pronounced with the same vowel sound as the word `how'. As a warning shot across the bows of their rivals, the company is already setting very low prices. This vote is a protest, a shot across the bows to the leadership, to show them that we're here. Note: You can also use the shorter expression a warning shot. The protest should act as a warning shot to the government. Note: People often use the verb fire before these expressions, and, less often, verbs such as deliver and send. Britain's agriculture minister departed from his prepared speech to fire a shot across Norway's bows. The electorate has sent a warning shot which our politicians must now take notice of. Note: The bows are the front part of a ship.
See also: across, bow, shot
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

(fire) a (warning) shot across somebody’s ˈbows

do something to warn an enemy, a competitor, etc. that you will take further action against them if necessary: The President’s speech on Friday was a shot across the bows of the banks. If they don’t change their policies, he will change the law.This expression refers to encounters between ships of hostile nations. One ship might fire a shot at another, not in order to hit it, but to warn it to move.
See also: across, bow, shot
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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References in periodicals archive ?
A shot across the bows of the vacuous in Britain who believe none of us must be held responsible for idiotic camera-courting and inane tweeting.
"The Sixteen concept was just that from a technical viewpoint," he says, "but it was a shot across the bows of the other luxury makes.
TONY Blair has been given a shot across the bows from the unions over his plan to bring private firms in to run the NHS.
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