marching orders

plural noun

Military. orders to begin a march or other troop movement.
  1. orders to start out, move on, proceed, etc.: We're just sitting by the phone, awaiting our marching orders.
  2. notice of dismissal from a position or job; walking papers.

Origin of marching orders

First recorded in 1770–80 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for marching orders

  • The Faith, he begins to see, can take care of itself: for him, it is important to await his marching-orders with a clean breast.

    News from the Duchy|Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch
  • As the Ranelagh faction very emphatically disapproved, Lumley was compelled to give the recruit her marching-orders.

    The Magnificent Montez|Horace Wyndham
  • He now has his mobilization-papers, his marching-orders in his pocket.

    The Secret of Sarek|Maurice Leblanc

British Dictionary definitions for marching orders

marching orders

pl n

military orders, esp to infantry, giving instructions about a march, its destination, etc
informal notice of dismissal, esp from employment
informal the instruction to proceed with a task
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