beard the lion


Confront a danger, take a risk, as in I went straight to my boss, bearding the lion. This term was originally a Latin proverb based on a Bible story (I Samuel 17:35) about the shepherd David, who pursued a lion that had stolen a lamb, caught it by its beard, and killed it. By Shakespeare's time it was being used figuratively, as it is today. Sometimes the term is amplified to beard the lion in his den, which may combine the allusion with another Bible story, that of Daniel being shut in a lions' den for the night (Daniel 6:16–24).

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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.