boxing phrases

Many of our colorful phrases come from the sport of boxing, but I had no idea how many there were until I started doing research. Here’s a list of the phrases that don’t have much of a story, other than that they originated in the ring. I’ll do the ones with stories as the weeks go by.

Bare-knuckle: fierce (from boxing done without gloves)

Blow-by-blow: a detailed commentary during a boxing match (1930s radio broadcasts)

Bob and weave: be evasive (as a boxer ducking blows)

Come out swinging: be immediately aggressive or energetic

Deliver/land a (knockout) blow: Knock down someone or something

Take off the gloves: abandon restraint (use bare fists rather than gloves)

Glass jaw: vulnerability (a boxer’s jaw is his most fragile target point)

Go down swinging: fight until you are knocked out

Have (someone) in your corner (of the ring): have an ally

Heavy hitter: an important or powerful person or thing (a boxer who punches hard)

Keep (one’s) guard up: stay alert (boxer protecting face with a gloved hand)

Kisser: boxing slang for lips

Knockout: a decisive blow (a knockout punch)

Lead with (one’s) chin: take a risk (a boxer leaving his chin unprotected)

Lightweight: insignificant (from the boxing weight class)

On the ropes: in trouble (an exhausted boxer hanging onto ring ropes) 

Ringside seat: close to an event

Roll with the punches: be flexible (a boxer moving to avoid the heaviest blows) 

Slugfest: a combative event

Square off: prepare for conflict (boxers facing each other to begin a match)

Spar: to bandy words; dispute (boxing with light blows)

Straight from the shoulder: direct and forthright (a blow delivered with full force)

Take a dive: to fail in a sporting event on purpose, probably for gain

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