Beat A Retreat

Also: Beat a hasty retreat

Meaning of Idiom ‘Beat a Retreat’

To beat a retreat means to quickly withdraw or reverse course; to quickly leave a place after entering it. 1Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013. 2Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.

Usage

“The woman, after seeing her ex-husband at the restaurant, quickly beat a retreat.”

“My girlfriend took me to meet her father. He was so mean and grumpy I beat a retreat before things got worse.”

Origin

This phrase from the 1300s was originally military in origin, referring to how the beating of drums was used as a signal for retreating from a battle. It is rarely used today, and then only figuratively. 1

The slang idiom beat it is based on this expression.

More Idioms Starting with B

More Beat Idioms

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Sources   [ + ]

1. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
2. Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.