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  1. #1
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    Default beats a hasty retreat

    Rachel: Yeah Melissa, I donít want to be known as the uh, office bitch, but I will call your supervisor.
    (Melissa beats a hasty retreat.)

    what does "beats a hasty retreat" means?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: beats a hasty retreat

    "beat(s)" means, to hit the pavement/floor hard with one's foot, feet, as in to run.

    "hasty" means, quickly.

    "retreat" means, to leave.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: beats a hasty retreat

    Thank you so much!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: beats a hasty retreat

    You're welcome.

  5. #5
    hobbes is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: beats a hasty retreat

    I thought it had a British military origin....so I looked it up.

    The drummer would signal or 'beat' a signal for a speedy or 'hasty' retreat to the troops.

    "This is a relatively recent phrase and is a commonly used cliche variant of 'beat a retreat'. The earliest printed citation known is from 1883:

    S. C. Hall, Retrospect - "An unpopular candidate had frequently to beat a hasty retreat from the hustings."

    Many people now would say 'beat a retreat' but originally it was 'beat the retreat'. A retreat wasn't just a generalised withdrawal but a specific military procedure established by the British Army. Back in the 16th century war may have been a brutal hand-to-hand affair but it was conducted under rules of engagement that seem now somewhat quaint. These were laid out in some detail by the British Army's "Rules and Ordynaunces for the Warre", dated 1554, and also by Robert Barrett in his "Theorike and Practice of Moderne Warres", dated 1598.

    One of the niceties that present-day combatants don't enjoy is the custom that, at sunset, all hostilities ceased and the soldiery went back to their camps to bed. The signal for this was a pattern of drum beats known as The Retreat. So, a retreat wasn't a signal to fall back and give up occupied land as it is now but a signal to retire to bed. The earliest reference to the retreat come from the mid 17th century, as in this command from 1690, from an officer in the Army of James II:

    "The generalle [the signal to get up and start fighting again] to be beate att 3 clock in ye morning. Ye retreate to beate att 9 att night..."."

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