the gloves are off = with the gloves off = take the gloves off
used to express the notion that something will be done in an uncompromising or brutal way without compunction or hesitation
The contrast implied in this phrase is with a gloved hand handling things gently or in a civilized way.
RELATED IDIOMS :
fit like a glove
(of clothes) fit exactly
1989 - T. M. Albert - Tales of an Ulster Detective - McNinch invited him to try the shoe on his foot, which he did and it fitted him like a glove.
the gloves are off :
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