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at sword's point

Also, at swords' points. Antagonistic, hostile, as in Father and son were at swords' points. Dating from the days when swords were used to settle quarrels, the idiom today generally signifies only a bitter quarrel.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.