say uncle

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say uncle

To admit defeat or plead for mercy, especially in an informal physical contest of some kind. Can also be used as an imperative phrase to demand that someone give up or admit defeat. The brothers often play fought, but it was invariably the younger of the two who had to say uncle by the end. Say "uncle," and I'll let you out of this headlock!
See also: say, uncle
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

cry/say ˈuncle

(American English) admit that you have been beaten or defeated: They’re determined to make the President cry uncle in the budget debate.Originally, this comes from children’s games in which the child has to say the word ‘uncle’ to admit defeat.
See also: cry, say, uncle
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

say uncle

tv. to admit defeat; to give up. I never say uncle. I just keep right on going.
See also: say, uncle
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

say uncle, to

To concede defeat. Also put as cry uncle, it is the schoolyard equivalent of “say when you’ve had enough of this battle.” The term is an Americanism dating from about 1900, and its original meaning (if any) has been lost. It began to be used figuratively in the mid-twentieth century, as in Budd Schulberg’s What Makes Sammy Run? (1941): “Okay, I said, I’ll cry uncle.”
See also: say, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
We've been trained by the news, by our president, to be afraid of one another, and that's why Say Uncle is about this much larger than life--2% maybe.
I REMEMBER when Robert Kilroy Silk was Labour MP for Knowsley North and Ormskirk, he kicked his then beloved Labour Party and became a millionaire TV agony aunt (or should I say uncle).
"It's too easy to just say Uncle Andy is a hit - what about Ma?"
Twentieth Century's Say Uncle spotlights a gay man who adopts his niece and nephew.
For all the brickbats hurled at him, there is the critic's temptation to just say uncle, to agree to be amused if not absolutely charmed, to assert that, regardless of the apparent vulgarity of certain individual works, Hirst possesses that supremely uncritical attribute, "talent." The apparent "unoriginality" of his work--its reliance on Surrealist shock techniques and Minimalist presentational modes--doesn't detract from his brilliance as a Pop personage, a vendor of attitudes.
They just want to know which direction you face to say Uncle!..." she says.
"The employees were not prepared to say uncle," says Ross.