See the elephant

Experience more than one wants to, learn a hard lesson; also, see combat, especially for the first time. For example, After the expedition lost two climbers in an avalanche, they had seen the elephant and turned back, or On his first tour of duty he saw the elephant. This slangy expression, first recorded in 1835, alludes to having seen all the sights one can see, including that rare beast, and returning home unimpressed or disappointed.


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  • See the last of

    End one’s dealings with someone or something, as in I hope I’ve seen the last of those boring ice shows, or We haven’t seen the last of Jerry—he’ll be back. [ Early 1800s ]

  • See the light of day

    Be published, brought out, or born. For example, I wonder if her book will ever see the light of day, or The family reunion was a disaster, and I wish the idea for it had never seen the light of day, or When we visited Pittsburgh, we saw where Mom had first seen the light […]

  • See the sights

    View noteworthy features or objects, especially when visiting a place. For example, It’s impossible to see all the sights of Paris in just a week. [ Mid-1700s ]

  • Seething

    verb (used without object), seethed or (Obsolete) sod; seethed or (Obsolete) sodden or sod; seething. 1. to surge or foam as if boiling. 2. to be in a state of agitation or excitement. 3. Archaic. to boil. verb (used with object), seethed or (Obsolete) sod; seethed or (Obsolete) sodden or sod; seething. 4. to soak […]

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