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1904, from poker players' slang term for the act of laying down the hands face-up (1892); see show (v.) + down (adv).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Examples from the Web for show-down
Historical Examples
  • He knows that matters must soon come to a show-down with the bunch.

    Bloom of Cactus Robert Ames Bennet
  • Would you get buck-ague in a pinch and quit me if it came to a show-down?

    'Me-Smith' Caroline Lockhart
  • Just pick the lady up, carry her out of that room, and have a show-down.

    The Thing from the Lake Eleanor M. Ingram
  • He's a coward when it comes to a show-down, but money and place and power are his gods.

    The Fifth Ace Douglas Grant
  • Theyre always for sellin and if it comes to a show-down never haggle much about the lucreit all goes for snake-juice anyway.

  • But then, when it came to a show-down she might not be so magnanimous as she had appeared tonight.

    Dust Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius
  • It doesn't give you a straight flush; but your hand will beat North's if it comes to a show-down between you.

    Empire Builders Francis Lynde
  • I think we'll be able to count on him later, when it comes to the show-down.

    Bloom of Cactus Robert Ames Bennet
  • When it came to a show-down, he reckoned his brains were about as good as a policeman's.

  • Look here, Tom, we might as well have a show-down right now.

    Left End Edwards Ralph Henry Barbour

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