break camp


Take down a tent and pack up other gear; also, leave a place, move out. For example, The landlord has to return my rent deposit before I'll break camp. Originally camp denoted a military encampment, but by the mid-1500s the term had been transferred to temporary outdoor sites used by hunters and the like. By the 19th century, the current term was in use. Thus, “It is the hunter's rule to see that the fire is extinguished ... before breaking camp.” (F.H. Guillemard, Cruise of Marchesa I, 1886).

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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.