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Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes

A famous command attributed to William Prescott, an American officer, at the Battle of Bunker Hill in the Revolutionary War. Prescott may have said “color” rather than “whites.”

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Note

Prescott's command has become a proverb, meaning “Don't act before you have some chance of success.”

Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes

Don't react to a situation too early. This saying comes from an order allegedly given by American officer William Prescott at the Battle of Bunker Hill in the American Revolutionary War.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.