beat a retreat

Idioms & Phrases

beat a retreat

Also, beat a hasty retreat. Reverse course or withdraw, usually quickly. For example, I really don't want to run into Jefflet's beat a retreat. This term originally (1300s) referred to the military practice of sounding drums to call back troops. Today it is used only figuratively, as in the example above.

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