knock-down drag-out fight, a

a knock-down, drag-out fight

A fight, argument, or conflict that is lengthy, intense, and contentious. The phrase usually refers to non-physical quarrels, or athletic contests, but not actual violence. This meeting is shaping up to be a knock-down, drag-out fight between the two rival executives, who have each been trying to recruit allies. We knew from the beginning that this was going to be a knock-down, drag-out fight, and it hasn't disappointed, with both sides relentlessly trying to gain an advantage.
See also: fight
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

knock-down drag-out fight, a

A violent altercation; a free-for-all, literal or figurative. This term, which has a modern ring to it, actually dates from the 1820s and originated in America. In those days it was nearly always used with reference to westerners, at least in print. James Fenimore Cooper used it in The Prairie (1827): “It was thinking of what you call consequences . . . that prevented me from . . . making it a real knock-down and drag-out.”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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