Agree to Disagree

Meaning of Idiom ‘Agree to Disagree’

When two people or parties agree to disagree, they both decide not to argue anymore; for two people to calmly agree that they are not going to reach an agreement or share the same views, and thus they should stop arguing and move on. 1Spears, https://amzn.to/2CEGuCz Richard A. McGraw-Hill’s Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. McGraw-Hill, 2006.,2Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms]. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.


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Usage

This idiom is used when two parties both understand that further argument will not be productive or that neither wishes to argue any longer.

It is often stated that the idiom reflects, thus, a decision to tolerate one another’s positions. This is often the case but the main thrust of the expression is a mutual decision not to argue or discuss the issue, rather than to agree to not condemn the other person’s position.

Examples Of Use

“Let’s just agree to disagree. We’re never going to see eye to eye on politics!”

“The two countries had always enjoyed a good friendship, but on this issue, they had to agree to disagree.”

“We love the same kind of movies but when it comes to food, we have to agree to disagree. I hate sushi and that’s all she ever wants to eat!”

Origin

This idiom was used in print as early as 1608 in a work called The Protestants Apology for the Roman Church Divided Into Three Several Tracts, by James Anderton writing under the pseudonym of John Brereley:

And as our learned adversaries do thus agree to disagree in their owne translations, mutually condemning (as before) each other..

The full modern meaning was used by the latter half of the 1700s.

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Sources

Spears, https://amzn.to/2CEGuCz Richard A. McGraw-Hill’s Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. McGraw-Hill, 2006.
Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms]. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.