marching orders

noun
1.
Military. orders to begin a march or other troop movement.
2.
Informal.
a.
orders to start out, move on, proceed, etc.: We're just sitting by the phone, awaiting our marching orders.
b.
notice of dismissal from a position or job; walking papers.

Origin:
1770–80

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
marching orders
 
pl n
1.  military orders, esp to infantry, giving instructions about a march, its destination, etc
2.  informal notice of dismissal, esp from employment
3.  informal the instruction to proceed with a task

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Example sentences
Maybe it is more to be pitied-as the recipient of conflicting marching orders.
The soldier calls to say that he's received his marching orders.
For some reason, these were the marching orders in this story.
The heads of those agencies serve at the president's pleasure and obey his
  marching orders.
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