What does the idiom "at close quarters" mean?

Although the meanings of the words in them do not make any sense when examined one by one, the word groups that are shaped according to the cultural roots of the language and that make sense as a whole are called idioms. at close quarters meaning, in what situations is it used?

Meaning of "at close quarters"


The idiom 'at close quarters' is used to mean being in a situation where two sides are in close proximity to each other, or in physical contact. Being 'at close quarters' therefore implies being face-to-face, or in close communication. It is a phrase used to describe a physical or emotional situation where two sides are in a highly charged, or confrontational type of situation.


The phrase 'at close quarters' first appeared in the English language in the mid-18th century, and has its roots in military terminology. It was first used to describe being at a close distance within a battle or conflict, where contact was possible. It has since been widened to refer to any situation where two sides are in close proximity.


The idiom 'at close quarters' is used to refer to both physical and emotional situations. It is used to describe a situation where two sides are close together, or in contact with each other, usually in a hostile or confrontational manner. It is often used to describe situations such as arguments, debates, confrontations or negotiations, where two sides are in very close contact with each other.

Example Sentences

  • The two sides had been arguing for hours, and the situation was getting more tense as they reached the end of the negotiating table and were at close quarters.
  • The two armies met in the field and were at close quarters as they prepared to fight.
  • The police moved in and arrested the suspect as he was at close quarters with his victims.

The meanings of the words in the "at close quarters" idiom

The Global Spread of English Idioms

As English has become a global language, its idioms have spread far beyond the borders of the UK and USA. For instance, the idiom "beat around the bush" has equivalents in many other languages, such as "tourner autour du pot" in French and "dar vueltas al asunto" in Spanish. Meanwhile, other idioms have been adapted for local contexts, such as the Russian idiom "?? ???? ???????" (ne svoya rubashka), which translates to "not one's own shirt," meaning to be in an uncomfortable or unfamiliar situation.


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