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close quarters

[klohs]
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noun
  1. a small, cramped place or position.
  2. direct and close contact in a fight: They met at close quarters, exchanging many quick jabs.

Origin of close quarters

First recorded in 1745–55
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for close quarters

Historical Examples

  • The close-quarters projectile of to-day is more usually shrapnel with the fuze set at zero.

    Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 2, Slice 6

    Various

  • There was a flurrying exchange of close-quarters blows, Rorke spinning about so that his back was towards the referee.

  • Close-quarters may be on any point, and the seaman rather delights in the bow attack, using the bowsprit as his bridge.

    The Sailor's Word-Book

    William Henry Smyth

  • They snapped and barked, but had as yet come to no close-quarters since Tolleys adventure with the pepper-besprinkled Bible.

    The Heart of Canyon Pass

    Thomas K. Holmes


British Dictionary definitions for close quarters

close quarters

pl n
  1. a narrow cramped space or position
  2. at close quarters
    1. engaged in hand-to-hand combat
    2. in close proximity; very near together
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for close quarters

1753, originally nautical, also close-fights, "bulkheads fore and aft for men to stand behind in close engagements to fire on the enemy," it reflects the confusion of close (v.) and close (adj.); "now understood of proximity, but orig. 'closed' space on ship-board where last stand could be made against boarders" [Weekley]. Cf. also closed-minded, a variant of close-minded attested from 1880s, with a sense of "shut" rather than "tight."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper