on the warpath

Idioms & Phrases

on the warpath

Furious and on a hostile course of action, as in When the meat wasn't delivered, the chef went on the warpath. This expression was an English translation of a Native American term that literally means "a path used by a war party." Go on the war path thus meant "go to battle." It was used in this way by James Fenimore Cooper in The Deerslayer (1841); its present hyperbolic use dates from the late 1800s.

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