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  1. thedaffodils's Avatar
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    #1

    Question the knives have come out once again

    Just two days ago, Mr Brown insisted it was his 'duty' to fight on and there was little appetite for a leadership challenge at such a crucial time for the country.
    But now, with his Government in disarray and Labour facing a drubbing in the polls tomorrow, the knives have come out once again.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...rns-Brown.html
    the knives have come out once again = there's a fighting again?

    Is the sentence an usual expression or idiom? Thank you!

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: the knives have come out once again

    Quote Originally Posted by thedaffodils View Post
    'Time to cut him loose': Even the Guardian turns against Brown | Mail Online
    the knives have come out once again = there's a fighting again?

    Is the sentence an usual expression or idiom? Thank you!
    Not quite. There are signs that something violent (in this case, political assassination) is about to happen - they've got the knives ready, but haven't stuck them in George Brown's back yet.

    And yes, it's an idiom. 'Knives' are often used as an image in politics (maybe the iidea is based on Julius Caesar - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia). For example, the night when Harold Macmillan got rid of a lot of political enemies was popularly known as 'the night of the long knives'. By analogy with that, when Margaret Thatcher did something similar, it was called in the press 'the night of the long hat-pins')

    b

  3. thedaffodils's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: the knives have come out once again

    Hi BobK,

    Thank you for your reply. Does 'hat-pin' has the connotation of violence like knife?


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    #4

    Re: the knives have come out once again

    I'm guessing the hat-pins were a reference to Margaret Thatcher being a woman...? Out of context (i.e. not in the hands of a deadly female assassin), I would not consider hat-pins to be terribly violent. They would conjure more images of a traditional or old-fashioned woman, the sort who wears a hat which requires hat-pins to keep in place. But then, I'm not British.

    I just wanted to add another expression to the mix, which I think is similar. Sometimes people talk about "the claws coming out", which is a reference to the way a cat will unsheath its claws when preparing to fight. And again, it doesn't have to be a litteral physical attack; it can be a verbal or political attack.

  4. BobK's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: the knives have come out once again

    Quote Originally Posted by nonsense View Post
    I'm guessing the hat-pins were a reference to Margaret Thatcher being a woman...? Out of context (i.e. not in the hands of a deadly female assassin), I would not consider hat-pins to be terribly violent. They would conjure more images of a traditional or old-fashioned woman, the sort who wears a hat which requires hat-pins to keep in place. But then, I'm not British.

    ...
    That's it.

    b

  5. thedaffodils's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: the knives have come out once again

    Nonsense & BobK:

    Thank you very much for your response (again). I think I understand now. It is interesting to know these expressions.

  6. Ouisch's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: the knives have come out once again

    Back when Sarah Ferguson was still married to Prince Andrew, she had done some things that Buckingham Palace higher-ups (that is, advisors to the Queen) found unsuitable, and they took it upon themselves to focus on every mis-step she made in the media afterward (this was before the infamous "toe-sucking" photos became public). The tabloid media reported at the time: "The knives are out for Fergie." It basically meant that those with power at the Palace were ready to defame the Duchess of York at any possible opportunity.


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    #8

    Re: the knives have come out once again

    Please note I am not a teacher, I am an entrepreneur based in Essex.

    I agree with BobK's explanation of the phrase. BobK you are right - in one letter I received from the Daily Mail (complaining about the use of the phrase) they mentioned the Julius Caeser origination.

    I would like to add another note reference this phrase, which I hope you find interesting (and I find very upsetting!)

    The phrase in question is metaphorical, I believe it could also be referred to as a dysphemism or cacophemism.

    Now, I have been writing to the senior editorial staff of The Daily Mail newspaper since July 2001, desperately trying to stop them from using these knife analogous phrases. I have also spoke to the senior editorial staff on the phone including the Managing Editor.

    So why do I want the newspaper (and other media) to stop printing headlines such as I quote verbatim:- "The knives are out for Gordon Brown", "Knives come out for Michael Grade", "Now they will stab him in the front", "Who will wield the knife?"

    Well, normal people like you and I take these phrases as metaphors as presumably intended (although I think they are absolutely ghastly).

    The problem is this - it is recognised that people who commit (now referring to literal) knife crime are very often mentally unstable, such as suffering from illnesses such as severe paranoid schizophrenia. Also there is a lot of problem of youngsters commiting knife crime in Britain against other teenagers.

    I believed in 2001 that the use of the knife dysphemisms in print would lead to actual real life knife crime (literally), because - a very small minority of people with mental instabilities can read these headlines etc. as "messages" (in their psychotic state) giving them a catalytic trigger to commit awful crimes. Furthermore, there are thousands upon thousands of teenagers who have not had the opportunity to visit a forum such as this, to have found out that the expression is a metaphor. I also argued to the newspapers that it is very hypocritical to state one day that "knife crime is so awful what can we do about it?" and then, a few days later to print a gleaming headline "Knives are out.." or "Knives come out.."

    I wrote to The Daily Mail in July 2001 because they had printed as a front page headline on June 3rd 2001 "Knives are out for Gordon Brown". They printed headlines like this on hundreds of occasions subsequently, and I believe this has had a very real impact on making (literal) knife crime in Britain and elsewhere worse and a more widespread problem. I believe that each and every use of this phrase in a multi-million read newspaper as a headline is effectively an incitement to murder.

    I would like to say through your forum, that I believe dysphemisms like these are very unhelpful in the English language, and I personally never use them.

    In 2006 I interviewed two "knife offenders" who thankfully hadn't killed anyone, but one had been threatening people with knives and had later reformed and the other went out onto the streets with a knife and later said to the police that he wanted to use the weapon to kill himself (they had a mental illness). When I interviewed them, they gave testimony that they HAD been influenced by headlines in newspapers such as "The Knives come out" to commit their crime ! I sent their testimonies to The Daily Mail in 2006 but the Daily Mail continued to use the expression more and more subsequently!

    What I can't understand is that I believe the connection is obvious, (I thought that even before I interviewed anyone), and I am saddened that the knife expressions are still being used more and more by the media.

    I also find it sad that I appear to be the sole advocate of my point on the internet in the whole world, but this does not make me wrong!

    Best regards to all.

  7. BobK's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: the knives have come out once again

    I recognize the fact that Pad is writing in good faith; and that the choice of idioms can affect actual behaviour. But the original post has been answered and I don't want the discussion to get unnecessarily heated, so I'm closing the thread.

    b

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