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white flag, show the

Also, hang out or hoist the white flag. Surrender, yield, as in Our opponents held all the cards tonight, so we showed the white flag and left early. This expression alludes to the white flag indicating a surrender in battle, a custom apparently dating from Roman times and adopted as an international symbol of surrender or truce. [Late 1600s]

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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.