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a camel's nose (under the tent)

A small, seemingly innocuous act or decision that will lead to much larger, more serious, and less desirable consequences down the line. The term refers to an alleged Arab proverb that if a camel is allowed to get its nose inside of a tent, it will be impossible to prevent the rest of it from entering. Some regard legalizing same-sex marriage as a camel's nose under the tent, eventually leading to the destruction of marriage altogether. Not hiring an exterminator at the first sign of termites has proved to be a camel's nose, as much of our woodwork is now destroyed. If you let your employees work from home occasionally, it could well become a camel's nose under the tent. Like, good luck getting them to work a whole week in the office again!
See also: nose

big tent

1. noun A group, movement, or philosophy that appeals or caters to, or encompasses, the broadest and most diverse amount of members possible. We pride our church on being something of a big tent, welcoming any and all who wish to join us. The party is trying to establish itself as a big tent, broadening its aims to appeal to the widest amount of voters possible.
2. adjective Appealing or catering to, or encompassing, the broadest and most diverse amount of members possible. Often hyphenated. In my opinion, their big-tent politics, while reaching more people, dilute the potency of their goals.
See also: big, tent

build a big tent

To create, develop, or foster an environment that encompasses, appeals to, or allows for the broadest and most diverse amount of members possible. The party has spent the last year building a big tent, broadening its aims to appeal to the widest amount of voters possible. Our goal with this church was to build a big tent, one that would welcome any and all who had faith in the Almighty.
See also: big, build, tent

fold (up) (one's) tent

To quit, withdraw, or disengage (from something), especially quietly or discreetly. After allegations of embezzlement, the CEO decided to fold his tent and take an early retirement. You're going to have a lot of setbacks in life, so don't just fold up your tent and go home at the first sign of failure.
See also: fold, tent

fold like a cheap tent

To offer little resistance; to submit, yield, or give up very easily. (Perhaps an allusion to the tendency of inexpensive tents to collapse easily.) The suspect folded like a cheap tent after some pressure from the prosecution, signing a full confession for the crime. The team's defense started folding like a cheap tent after we got our second touchdown.
See also: cheap, fold, like, tent

morning tent

slang An involuntary erection that a man achieves during sleep and retains upon awakening. An allusion to the involuntary erection pushing the bedsheets upward into a "tent." I rolled over to snuggle my boyfriend, only to bump off of his morning tent. I hate waking up with both a morning tent and an urgent need to pee!
See also: morning, tent

pitch a tent

slang To have an erection while lying naked beneath a sheet, such that the sheet rises like a tent away from one's torso. My husband is always pitching a tent first thing in the morning. Just watching her lying next to me in bed was enough to make me pitch a tent.
See also: pitch, tent

tent city

A series or settlement of tents or other temporary structures that house people who are unable to reside in permanent homes, as owing to homelessness, displacement, protest, war, etc. The United Nations has constructed a massive tent city to accommodate the thousands of refugees forced from their homes because of the military conflict. There has been a tent city in this part of town for decades, populated by all manner of people who have fallen on hard times.
See also: city, tent

tent out

To sleep in a tent outside. The kids love tenting out during the summer. After two weeks of tenting out in the wilderness, it's nice to be sleeping in my own bed again.
See also: out, tent

Were you born in a tent?

Have you no basic manners? (Usually said after someone has left open a door to the outside.) Shut the door, it's freezing outside! Were you born in a tent?
See also: born
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

pitch a tent

to erect a tent at a campsite. The campers pitched their tent in a clearing in the woods. I pitched my tent next to a large oak tree.
See also: pitch, tent
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

fold one's tent

Quietly depart, as in It's late, so let's fold our tents. This term is a partial quotation of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem "The Day is Done" (1844): "And the night shall be filled with music, And the cares that infest the day, Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs, And quietly steal away."
See also: fold, tent
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

a big tent

A big tent is a group such as a political party that includes people with a wide range of opinions. They argue that the party should be a big tent, whose only qualification for membership should be a common belief in lower taxes and smaller government.
See also: big, tent
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

tent out

1. To sleep outdoors in a tent: We tented out in Acadia National Park.
2. To be extended outwards by a prop so as to create a cavity underneath. Used of a layer or sheet of material: The wallpaper is tenting out because of a loose nail.
3. To push out some layer or sheet of material so as to create a cavity underneath: A loose spring in the cushion is tenting the fabric out. We used ski poles to tent out the sides of the tarp.
See also: out, tent
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

make a mountain

and pitch a tent
n. to have a morning erection that raises the covers; to have an erection that makes a bulge in one’s clothing; to get an erection. Bobby makes a mountain almost every morning. When I was in the hospital, I was afraid I would pitch a tent in the morning.
See also: make, mountain

pitch a tent

See also: pitch, tent
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

fold our tents, (let us)

Quietly depart, go home. This term comes from Longfellow’s poem “The Day Is Done” (1844): “And the night shall be filled with music, And the cares, that infest the day, Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs, And as silently steal away.” Today it is often used jocularly, as in “Come on, it’s after eleven. Time to fold our tents.”
See also: fold
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in classic literature ?
He was sittin' in his tent, purtendin' not to 'ave ear av the racket.
Together they left the tent. At the door Rokoff could not resist the temptation to turn and fling a parting taunt at Tarzan.
It came from the side of the tent nearest the mountains--the back.
They were not twenty paces on their way when the same shadow that had appeared to enter the tent came out of it again, crawled along as far as the piles, and, protected by that sort of parapet placed along the causeway, carefully observed the march of the general.
Just now he kicked me and hurt me so, Geeka; but I was only sitting before the tent making a skirt for you.
Presently she heard the crowd moving up the street toward The Sheik's tent. Cautiously she stuck her little head around the edge of the tent.
It had taken but two minutes for the king to reach the tent of the Scottish commander; he dismounted and entered.
Then, as Lord Leven and the other chieftains recoiled before this unexpected rescue, which seemed to come from Heaven for the prince they already thought was their prisoner, Athos and Aramis dragged the king from the perjured assembly into which he had so imprudently ventured, and throwing themselves on horseback all three returned at full gallop to the royal tent.
Every one ran to look inside the tent, and they saw two pretty white beds, all ready for Dorothy and Aunt Em, and a silver roost for Billina.
"But come and see the men's tent," said the Wizard.
However, the decision reached, the Arab and his lieutenant discussed the details of their forthcoming ventures for a short time further, when Werper made his excuses and returned to his own tent for the comforts and luxury of a long-desired bath and shave.
Having bathed, the Belgian tied a small hand mirror to a cord sewn to the rear wall of his tent, placed a rude chair beside an equally rude table that stood beside the glass, and proceeded to remove the rough stubble from his face.
Notwithstanding this warning Ned stuck his head out of the tent. The same instant he was aware of a dark enfolding shadow passing over him, and, with a shudder of fear, he jumped back.
Keeping the tent between him and herself, she crossed between the small shelters of the native porters to the boma wall beyond.
A noise at the tent door behind him brought his head quickly about and away from the girl.