red in tooth and claw

red in tooth and claw

Having, involving, or employing merciless and possibly cruel tactics during conflict or competition. Because there is a near-even split between the two parties in this state, politics tend to be red in tooth and claw come election time. Many want to do away with any and all regulation, allowing for a truly free market red in tooth and claw.
See also: and, claw, red, tooth
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

red in tooth and claw

LITERARY
If you describe a person, organization or activity as red in tooth and claw, you mean that they involve very competitive and sometimes cruel behaviour. My wife and I both now work for companies that are red in tooth and claw. He wanted to demonstrate that Labour is no longer red in tooth and claw, but a serious political party. Note: People talk about `nature red in tooth and claw' to describe the cruel way that wild creatures hunt and kill each other for food. This is a quotation from the poem `In Memoriam' (1850) by the English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson. (Part 56, stanza 4)
See also: and, claw, red, tooth
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

red in tooth and claw

involving savage or merciless conflict or competition.
This phrase originated as a quotation from Tennyson's ‘In Memoriam’ ( 1850 ): ‘Nature, red in tooth and claw’.
1998 Spectator Life is sharper on the shop floor, too; and for small business it is red in tooth and claw.
See also: and, claw, red, tooth
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

red in ˌtooth and ˈclaw

involving opposition or competition that is violent and without pity: nature, red in tooth and claw
See also: and, claw, red, tooth
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
See also:
References in periodicals archive ?
We have had these raptors in the garden before but never for such a long space of time, and to silently see nature red in tooth and claw was a privilege.
Nature may be red in tooth and claw, but in Wajdi Mouawad's outstanding novel, Anima, it's humans who are claw-deep in red and animals who benignly observe.
Trickster is red in tooth and claw but has a satisfying end.
This time John Major getting red in tooth and claw to lacerate the Brexit case and its "court jester" Boris Johnson.
Predator versus prey; it's nature red in tooth and claw as Sir David Attenborough guides us through the battles of life and death.
"Man fancies himself the huntergatherer, but a department store sale shows the fairer sex in their true colours: red in tooth and claw" - Sir Terry Wogan on female behaviour at the January sales.
But rather than presenting nature as red in tooth and claw, here it's as fluffy as a bunny's tail.
This tiger is not red in tooth and claw - he has had his teeth fixed, but his claws he has bitten away.
Though beasts may be, in Jack London's phrase, "red in tooth and claw," they live and die by natural selection and are without evil purpose, without malice, without sin.
The stereotypical image is of collectors daintily wielding paddles in a choreographed performance of discreet desire, but perhaps what is really going on is a power play, a battle more red in tooth and claw than nature herself.
Wilson calls it, and curiosity about the universe, are hard-wired into our species even as we know that natural selection is 'red in tooth and claw'.
Although at times the plot is fanciful, the details of the story are firmly realistic, especially when describing animal behavior, not sparing the "red in tooth and claw" aspect of their lives.
In place of tigers red in tooth and claw, white doves have cut the air in a rush of fluttery light.
Butterflies and a yin/yang symbol float encapsulated in circles; a lioness's skull and a stag beetle, creatures "red in tooth and claw" but innocent of moral evil, are placed below the feet of the dancers.
The idea that nature might be "red in tooth and claw" was utterly foreign to Disney's world view.