Take the edge off

Ease or assuage, make less severe, as in That snack took the edge off our hunger, or Her kind manner took the edge off her refusal. This term alludes to blunting the edge of a cutting instrument. Shakespeare used it figuratively in The Tempest (4:1): “To take away the edge of that day’s celebration.” The precise wording of the idiom dates from the first half of the 1900s.


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  • Take the fall

    take the pledge take the fall Incur blame or censure for another’s misdeeds, as in She’s taken the fall for you in terms of any political damage , or A senior official took the fall for the failed intelligence operation . This expression originated in the 1920s as underworld slang. It began to be extended […]

  • Take the heat

    take the cure take the heat Endure severe censure or criticism, as in He was known for being able to take the heat during a crisis. This idiom uses heat in the sense of “intense pressure,” as in if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen [ First half of 1900s ]

  • Take the heat off

    take the fifth

  • Take the initiative

    Begin a task or plan of action, as in The boss was on vacation when they ran out of materials, so Julie took the initiative and ordered more. This term uses initiative in the sense of “the power to originate something,” a usage dating from the late 1700s.

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