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declare war on

Also, declare war against. Announce one's intent to suppress or eradicate something or someone. For example, The police have declared war on drug dealing in the neighborhood, or Several gangs have declared war against each other. This usage transfers the literal sense of the term, “to state formally one's intention to carry on hostilities against another power,” to a somewhat smaller scale.

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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.