Take a Powder
Take a Powder : Phrases
To quit, leave, or stop doing something.
Rain won't slow down a real golfer, but when the lightning hits the smart ones take a powder.
The powder in this case is the type woman use on their face. Women used the phrase when in public to indicate their desire to powder their noses or go to the ladies' room to freshen their make-up or use the facilities.
Take a powder was uttered in many 1920's era films to women accompanying successful men to restaurants and clubs. The most common usage was when the tough-guy didn't want any women around to hear the ensuing conversation. Take a powder was a polite excuse to leave the room.
Alternative: This phrase hails from the early days of medical science, before Modern manufacturing techniques, when most medications came in the form of powders that were mixed with water and drunk. Many early medications contained Opium based drugs (such as Morphine) and tended to induce sleep. Hence the association of taking a powder with sleep or rest.
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