Is there an idiom that means "fight each other with the intent to hurt each other severely"? I was thinking about "be at each other’s throats", but it seems that it's not used to mean that, rather the definition states:

if two people are at each other’s throats, they are arguing in an angry way

As soon as politics comes up, they’ll be at each other’s throats.

Are there any good idioms that come to mind?

  • Do you mean physically or emotionally?
    – Katy
    May 13, 2019 at 1:41
  • I mean physically.
    – Sayaman
    May 13, 2019 at 2:15

3 Answers 3


Some possibilities include:

"Engaged/were locked in mortal combat."

"Fought (each other) to the death."

"dueled", "clashed"

Softer possibilities include "threw down" (which evokes the image of someone removing boxing gloves and restrictive clothing - "The gloves came off"), or softer still, they "had a fight".


Consider the following idioms.

To push one's buttons. Meaning: to do things that create a very strong emotional reaction in one, especially anger, irritation, or exasperation:

I hate Mary's new boyfriend, he's always trying to push my buttons, and he's doing a good job of it!

To hit/strike/touch a nerve. Meaning: to make someone feel angry, upset, embarrassed, etc.:

Something she said to him must have hit/struck/touched a nerve. I've never seen him so angry.

So, the idioms above can all be used to describe hurting someone's feelings. However, they don't mean a fight per se. For example, if you say "they are pushing each other's buttons" or "They are touching a nerve," it doesn't necessarily meaning having a fight. But it means hurting, possibly during an argument:

I hate to fight with her! She knows how to push my buttons/hit a nerve because her words hurt like a knife!

  • I meant physically hurt each other in a very severe way.
    – Sayaman
    May 13, 2019 at 2:15
  • @blackbird Oh, I see. It wasn't clear enough. I thought you meant emotional hurting, not beating. Then I can only think of "beat the hell out of someone" - idioms.thefreedictionary.com/beat+the+hell+out+of
    – Enguroo
    May 13, 2019 at 2:29


  • They were literally at each others' throats (barehanded fighting only)
  • Now they were fighting for real. George saw the glint of the knife and grabbed the first thing he touched: a crowbar.

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