To Beat a Retreat (Origin)

What Is the Origin of the Saying "To Beat a Retreat"?

To beat a retreat means to extract from a situation quickly — usually to avoid the consequences of remaining in situ.

The term beat the retreat is an old military term from the days when orders were passed to fighting troops on the battlefield using drums. Positioned alongside the Commanding Officer, a drummer boy would be ordered to beat the retreat if a battle was not going to plan.

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To Beat a Retreat (Origin)

Examples of Use:

  • Realizing they were outnumbered, they decided to beat a retreat and withdraw from the battlefield.
  • After the failed negotiation, they had no choice but to beat a retreat and regroup for a different approach.
  • Upon encountering the angry mob, the politician had to beat a retreat to escape the escalating situation.
  • They quickly realized they were trespassing and had to beat a retreat before getting caught.
  • Feeling overwhelmed by the crowd, she decided to beat a retreat and find a quieter place.

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This page was written by Craig Shrives.