take to one's heels


Run away, as in When the burglar alarm went off they took to their heels. This expression alludes to the fact that the heels are all one sees of a fugitive running away fast. Although similar expressions turned up from Shakespeare's time on, the exact idiom dates only from the first half of the 1800s. Also see show one's heels.

QUIZZES

THE OCTOBER WORD OF THE DAY QUIZ IS HERE TO HAUNT YOU

Search your capacious memory for the meaning of October’s words!
Question 1 of 9
Which Word of the Day from this month means, “an irrational dislike; loathing”?
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.