all's fair in love and war

Cultural Dictionary

All's fair in love and war definition


People in love and soldiers in wartime are not bound by the rules of fair play.

Note: This proverb is frequently used when two people are contending for the love of a third.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

all's fair in love and war

Any conduct is permissible in certain circumstances, as in Of course he called herall's fair in love and war. This maxim, stated in various forms from 1579 on, today sometimes appears altered by an addition or substitution, as in All's fair in love and the World Series, or All's fair in love and war and an election year.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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