quail before

quail before (someone or something)

To tremble with fear before someone or something; to cower or whimper in the face of someone or something. The headmistress at my old school was so menacing—we all quailed before her whenever we were called to her office. The people of this country will quail before the might of our army.
See also: before, quail
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

quail before someone or something

to cower before or at the threat of someone or something. The students quailed before the angry principal. They quailed before the thought of punishment.
See also: before, quail
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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References in classic literature ?
He knew that he would no more quail before his guides wher- ever they should point.
I have seen a brawny, fellow, with no lack of ordinary courage, fairly quail before this slender stripling, when in one of his curious fits.
Hatfield twisted right, correcting his lead on a bobwhite quail before squeezing the trigger.
I needed to learn about raising quail before I did anything else.