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To speak harshly or maliciously, so as to hurt the listener. I can't stand to be around my mother these days—she's always speaking daggers because she's so miserable. I will speak daggers to my enemy when I see him at the debate.
be at daggers drawn
To be prepared to verbally or physically fight another person or group. Primarily heard in UK, Australia. The police have had to intervene because those rival gangs have been at daggers drawn lately. The members of the committee are at daggers drawn because they cannot agree on a course of action.
Using or involving secrecy, deception, or espionage, especially the kind portrayed in dramatic depictions of spying. During the Cold War, there were always rumors of the latest cloak-and-dagger tactics being used by spies. I know I said I wanted to meet you in private, but you didn't have to be so cloak-and-dagger about it. A parking garage isn't what I had in mind.
shoot daggers at (one)
To glare at one very angrily, spitefully, or disdainfully. I noticed the bride shooting daggers at the best man as he started making vulgar jokes during his speech.
look daggers at (one)
To glare at someone very angrily, spitefully, or disdainfully. I noticed the bride looking daggers at the best man as he started making vulgar jokes during his speech.
at daggers drawn
Prepared to verbally or physically fight another person or group. Primarily heard in UK, Australia. The police have had to intervene because those rival gangs have been at daggers drawn lately. The members of the committee are at daggers drawn because they cannot agree on a course of action.
1. A derogatory and highly offensive term for a woman who is masculine in appearance and/or sensibility. Typically used of lesbians, usually black lesbians, who exhibit such traits.
2. A reclaimed term (see Definition 1) used by homosexuals for a woman who is masculine in appearance and/or sensibility. Typically used of lesbians, usually black lesbians, who exhibit such traits. Yeah, I'm a bulldagger who's attracted to femmes.
involving secrecy and plotting. A great deal of cloak-and-dagger stuff goes on in political circles. A lot of cloak-and-dagger activity was involved in the appointment of the director.
look daggers at someone
Fig. to give someone a dirty look. Tom must have been mad at Ann from the way he was looking daggers at her. Don't you dare look daggers at me! Don't even look cross-eyed at me!
daggers drawn, at
Also, with daggers drawn. About to or ready to fight, as in Are Felix and Oscar still at daggers drawn over the rent? Although daggers today are rarely if ever used to avenge an insult or issue a challenge to a duel, this idiom remains current. Its figurative use dates from about 1800.
See also: dagger
Glare, stare fiercely, as in When she started to discuss their finances, he looked daggers at her. This metaphoric term, likening an angry expression to a dagger's thrust, dates from ancient times and has appeared in English since about 1600.
COMMON You use cloak-and-dagger to describe activities, especially dangerous ones, which are done in secret. Now that the Berlin Wall has come down, the cloak-and-dagger world of East-West espionage might appear to be outdated. They met in classic cloak-and-dagger style beside the lake in St James's Park. Note: You can refer to such activities as cloaks and daggers. Working in police intelligence has very little to do with cloaks and daggers — it's mostly about boring reports and endless statistics. Note: You sometimes use this expression to suggest that people are treating these activities in an unnecessarily dramatic way. Note: This expression is taken from the name of a type of 17th century Spanish drama, in which characters typically wore cloaks and fought with daggers or swords.
at daggers drawnBRITISH
If two people or groups are at daggers drawn, they are having a serious disagreement and are very angry with each other. The publishing and record divisions of the company were at daggers drawn over the simultaneous release of the book and the album. The government now finds itself at daggers drawn with the same press it had gone to such great lengths to give freedom of expression to.
look daggers at someoneLITERARY
If someone looks daggers at you, they stare at you in a very angry way. Christabel stopped combing her hair and looked daggers at Ron. Note: Verbs such as stare and shoot are sometimes used instead of look. Mr. Trancas was grinning, while the other man stared daggers at him. Dede shot daggers at her adversary until she was out of sight.
at daggers drawnin a state of bitter enmity.
The image here is of the drawing of daggers as the final stage in a confrontation before actual fighting breaks out. Although recorded in 1668 , the expression only became common from the early 19th century onwards.
look daggers atglare angrily or venomously at.
The expression speak daggers is also found and is used by Shakespeare's Hamlet in the scene in which he reproaches his mother.
be at daggers ˈdrawn (with somebody)if two people are at daggers drawn, they are very angry with each other: They’ve been at daggers drawn ever since he borrowed her car and smashed it up. OPPOSITE: (as) thick as thieves (with somebody)
If you draw a weapon (= a gun, a dagger, etc.), you take it out in order to attack somebody.
look ˈdaggers at somebodylook at somebody very angrily but not say anything: He looked daggers at her across the room when she mentioned his divorce.
bulldikerand bull-dagger and bulldyker
n. a lesbian, especially if aggressive or masculine. (Rude and derogatory.) Some old bulldiker strutted in and ordered a beer and a chaser. She was described by her friends as a “bull-dagger,” and I can’t imagine what her enemies called her.
look daggers at
To glare at angrily or hatefully.
Describing a secret or undercover operation. The term dates from seventeenth-century Spain, and the popular swashbuckling plays of Lope de Vega and Pedro Calderón de la Barca, filled with duels, intrigue, and betrayal. They were referred to as comedias de capa y espada, which was variously translated as “cloak-and-sword” or “cloak-and-dagger plays.” Somewhat later, in the nineteenth century, the term began to be applied to various kinds of romantic intrigue, and still later, to espionage. The idea of concealment was, of course, much older, and indeed, Chaucer wrote of “The smyler with the knyf under the cloke” (The Knight’s Tale).
look daggers at, to
To glare at someone. The term first appeared in the Greek playwright Aristophanes’s The Birds (ca. 414 b.c.) and was alluded to several times by Shakespeare. “There’s daggers in men’s smiles,” he wrote (Macbeth, 2:3). The image aptly conveys the fierceness of such a glance and appealed to numerous other writers, including Thoreau. A synonymous cliché is if looks could kill, which has been around since the early 1900s. Frank Harris used it in My Life and Loves (1922): “When they let me up I looked at Jones, and if looks could kill, he would have had short shrift.”