trail (one's) coat

(redirected from trailing their coat)

trail (one's) coat

To incite an argument. If one literally trails one's coat, a passerby could easily step on it, thus creating a tense situation. With a comment like that, she is clearly trailing her coat, and I refuse to take the bait.
See also: coat, trail

trail (or drag) your coat

deliberately provoke a quarrel or fight.
If you trail your coat behind you someone is likely to step on it, either intentionally or unintentionally, so enabling you to pick a fight. This behaviour was traditionally associated with Irishmen at Donnybrook Fair, an annual fair once held in what is now a suburb of Dublin. Charlotte M. Yonge , in the novel Womankind ( 1877 ), alludes to this association: ‘Party spirit is equally ready to give offence and to watch for it. It will trail its coat like the Irishman in the fair.’
1980 James Ditton Copley's Hunch I was trailing my coat…Trying to get the Luftwaffe to come up and fight.
See also: coat, trail
References in periodicals archive ?
Loyal brethren will be able to obtain cut-price flights to the Costa Bravo where they will be able to indulge in traditional activities such as marching, eating burgers in the sunshine, drinking cheap lager, cursing the Pope and trailing their coats (in front of republican bulls).