at daggers drawn

at daggers drawn

in a state of bitter enmity

The image here is of the drawing of daggers as the final stage in a confrontation before actual fighting breaks out. Although recorded in 1668, the expression only became common from the early19th century onwards.


look daggers at

glare angrily or venomously at

The expression speak daggers is also found and is used by Shakespeare's Hamlet in the scene in which he reproaches his mother.

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