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nip in the bud

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Halt something at an early stage, or thoroughly check something. For example, By arresting all the leaders, they nipped the rebellion in the bud. This metaphoric expression, alluding to a spring frost that kills flower buds, was first recorded in a Beaumont and Fletcher play of 1606–1607.

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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.
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