beat a (hasty/quick) retreat, to(redirected from to beat a retreat)
beat a (hasty) retreat
to withdraw from a place very quickly. We went out into the cold weather, but beat a retreat to the warmth of our fire. The dog beat a hasty retreat to its own yard.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
beat a retreat
Also, beat a hasty retreat. Reverse course or withdraw, usually quickly. For example, I really don't want to run into Jeff-let's beat a retreat. This term originally (1300s) referred to the military practice of sounding drums to call back troops. Today it is used only figuratively, as in the example above.
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.
beat a (hasty) reˈtreatgo away quickly from somebody/something: I had a terrible headache from all the noise and smoke at the party, so my wife and I beat a hasty retreat.In the past, the beat of a drum was sometimes used to keep soldiers marching in the same rhythm when they were retreating (= moving away from the enemy).
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
beat a retreat
To make a hasty withdrawal.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
beat a (hasty/quick) retreat, to
To withdraw, back down, or reverse course, usually without delay. The term comes from the military practice of sounding drums to recall troops behind the lines, or to some other position. In earlier days wind instruments, most often trumpets, were used for this purpose. Among the references to this practice is “Thai had blawen the ratret,” in John Barbour’s The Bruce (1375). Much later the expression was used figuratively to mean the same as the simple verb to retreat, and then, in the mid-nineteenth century, it became a cliché. A newer version is to beat a strategic retreat, basically a euphemism for a forced withdrawal. It came into use during World War I, as the German high command’s explanation of retiring from the Somme in 1917. In the civilian vocabulary, it came to mean yielding a point or backing down from a position in an argument.
See also: beat
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer