clear the deck(s)

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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. © 2015 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.
See also: clear, deck
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]
See also: clear, deck
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 decks

mainly BRITISH or

clear the deck

AMERICAN
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.
See also: clear, deck
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

clear the decks

prepare 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.
See also: clear, deck
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

clear the ˈdeck(s)

get ready for some activity by first dealing with anything not essential to it: We had been doing some painting in the dining room, so we had to spend some time clearing the decks before our visitors came round in the evening.
See also: clear, deck
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

clear the deck

Informal
To prepare for action.
See also: clear, deck
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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References in classic literature ?
Barricading the cabin door, they broke holes through the companion-way, and, with the muskets and ammunition which were at hand, opened a brisk fire that soon cleared the deck.
It took us half an hour's hard labour, after that, before it was properly up, and then we cleared the decks, and got out supper.
Chidambaram has cleared the deck for over 10,000 Israel- made assault rifles for the CRPF, whose commandos are at the forefront of a massive push against Maoist extremists.
The company believes it has "cleared the decks" with its lowered guidance for the year in order to meet or beat numbers, O'Brien tells investors in a research note.
New Delhi (India), Nov 27 ( ANI ): The Centre has cleared the decks for the strategic sale of Air India's ground handling subsidiary-Air India Air Transport Services Limited (AIATSL)-by deciding its 100 per cent disinvestment in ownership.
In a TURN TO PAGE 49 FROM BACK PAGE show of ruthlessness, Strauss has cleared the decks by first removing Peter Moores as coach and now turning his back on Pietersen.
THE Supreme Court on Monday cleared the decks for making the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu operational.
FOUR Toon players made use of the exit door at St James' Park yesterday as Alan Pardew cleared the decks ahead of his final push in the summer transfer window.
Mills has cleared the decks this term at Tamworth with only six players remaining.
Tony Blair has cleared the decks for an Anglo-French showdown over EU spending at a summit in Brussels today.
Once crushed by thinning margins, the region's CEOs cleared the decks, starting with bloated technology departments.
The losses are a bitter pill, but the Reds have cleared the decks and are now moving forward with purpose and vision -- and the club's money men should soon have reasons to be cheerful!
Andy Melville has cleared the decks for the next generation of Welsh defenders by announcing his international retirement after 65 caps.
Moyes has cleared the decks by releasing a dozen players already and that will possibly loosen the purse strings for some signings or loan deals.
Friday's announcement by Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt, which came with the caveat that Morrison would have to sell 53 Safeway stores, cleared the decks for a new bid from the Bradford retailer.