• synonyms

close quarters

[ klohs ]
/ kloʊs /


a small, cramped place or position.
direct and close contact in a fight: They met at close quarters, exchanging many quick jabs.


namaskarRead more in this article about some frequently asked questions and fun facts related to our definitions.

Nearby words

close juncture, close one's eyes to, close out, close position, close punctuation, close quarters, close quote, close ranks, close reach, close season, close shave

Origin of close quarters

First recorded in 1745–55 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for close quarters

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

British Dictionary definitions for close quarters

close quarters

/ (kləʊs) /

pl n

a narrow cramped space or position
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

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