throw in the towel
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To quit in defeat. The phrase comes from boxing, in which a fighter indicates surrender by throwing a towel into the ring: “After losing the election, he threw in the towel on his political career.”
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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.