clear the decks
clear the deck(s)
1. Literally, of sailors, to prepare for something (such as a battle) by removing or securing objects on the deck of a ship. That enemy ship is getting too close—clear the deck!
2. By extension, to cease doing something in preparation for a more important task or happening. I know you're busy with that paperwork, but clear the decks—I've got a big client coming in this afternoon.
3. To flee hastily; to depart quickly Uh oh, here comes mean old Mr. Jerome. Clear the decks, everyone! The staff cleared the decks when they saw the boss asking for volunteers to work on the weekend.
See also: clear
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
clear the decks
1. Lit. [for everyone] leave the deck of a ship and prepare for action. (A naval expression urging seaman to stow gear and prepare for battle or other action.) An attack is coming. Clear the decks.
2. Fig. get out of the way; get out of this area. Clear the decks! Here comes the teacher. Clear the decks and take your seats.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
clear the decks
Prepare for action, as in I've finished all these memos and cleared the decks for your project, or Clear the decks-here comes the coach. This expression originated in naval warfare, when it described preparing for battle by removing or fastening down all loose objects on the ship's decks. [Second half of 1800s]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
clear the decksmainly BRITISH or
clear the deckAMERICAN
COMMON If someone clears the decks, they finish what they are doing so that they are ready to start doing something else. The British commanders had wanted to clear the decks for possible large-scale military operations. Clear the decks before you think of taking on any more responsibilities. Note: In the past, all unnecessary objects were cleared off the decks or floors of a warship before a battle, so that the crew could move around more easily.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
clear the decksprepare for a particular event or goal by dealing beforehand with anything that might hinder progress.
In the literal sense, clear the decks meant to remove obstacles or unwanted items from the decks of a ship before a battle at sea.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
clear the decks, to
To prepare for action. This term comes from naval warfare. In the times of wooden sailing ships, a crew prepared for battle by fastening down or removing all loose objects on the decks, lest they get in the way or cause an injury. By the eighteenth century the term was being used to mean getting ready for any major undertaking by getting small details out of the way. See also batten down the hatches.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer