a warning shot across the bows


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warning shot across the bow(s)

A display of strength or aggression meant to serve as a warning to others. It refers to a warning shot from a ship, and can take the form of words or actions. Her sharp retort was a warning shot across the bow, letting her boyfriend know that she would not tolerate his bad attitude. The president is planning a military exercise along the border as a warning shot across the bows of her neighbors to the east.
See also: across, shot, warning

a warning shot across the bows

a statement or gesture intended to frighten someone into changing their course of action.
Literally, a shot fired in front of the bows of a ship is one which is not intended to hit it but to make it stop or alter course.
See also: across, bow, shot, warning
References in periodicals archive ?
On March 24, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Surveillance Authority sent a warning shot across the bows of the Norwegian Government over its failure to comply with the EU's Telecommunications Services Directive and the ONP Framework Directive.
Budget airline Ryanair has fired a warning shot across the bows of Birmingham International Airport.
"The warnings are not simply a warning shot across the bows but a statement of intent to drive poor, lousy and downright negligent care out of the sector."
The committee will also fire a warning shot across the bows of a possible incoming Tory government, cautioning against cuts in an emergency "stringency budget" which could leave it unable to carry through the strategic defence review promised by all the main parties.
SOUTH African teacher Renee Fahrenfort's words, "a country is only as good as its children, they are the back-bone of the nation" were a warning shot across the bows of our education system.
A HUGE police operation fired a warning shot across the bows of travelling rural criminals.