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Galley-west is an alteration of the British dialectal colly-west ‘awry, askew.’ This colloquial Americanism dates from the latter part of the 19th century.
The phrase is not limited in application to physical combat; it can also apply to mental or emotional disorientation resulting from the debunking of one’s ideas, arguments, or beliefs.knock the tar out of To thrash, whale, or beat senseless; also often beat the tar out of. A plausible conjecture says it derives from the former practice of caulking a ship’s bottom with tar, which would require an extremely severe shock or blow to out in lavender See a cat and dog life To fight or bicker constantly; to be contentious, quarrelsome, or argumentative on a regular basis.
Although measuring swords was originally a preliminary to a duel or fight, by extension it came to mean the fighting itself.
The equivalent French expression is mesurer les épées.
A more likely explanation, however, is that the cats are allegorical symbols for two rival towns, Kilkenny and Irishtown, which for more than 300 years waged a bitter border dispute.
By 1700, both towns were devastated and impoverished.
Theoretically, severe, repeated beatings would harden or toughen one’s skin, just as the tanning process does to hide in converting it to leather.
Several marginally plausible legends surround this expression, the most popular of which holds that in the Irish Rebellion of 1798, some sadistic soldiers stationed in Kilkenny enjoyed the “sport” of tying two cats together by their tails and hanging them over a clothesline so that, face to face, they would fight to the death.
Ralph Ellison includes a graphic description of the barbarous practice in Invisible Man.broach [someone’s] claret To give someone a bloody nose.
This euphemistically elegant expression for a very inelegant action and its result plays on the meaning of broach ‘to draw liquor from a cask’ and on claret as a red wine of Bordeaux.donnybrook A wild fight or brawl, a melee or free-for-all; also Donnybrook Fair.
A similar expression is as quarrelsome as Kilkenny cats.introduce the shoemaker to the tailor To kick someone in the buttocks or rear end; to kick someone in the pants.
This euphemism is a British colloquial expression.knock for a loop See CONFUSION.knock galley-west To incapacitate, to put someone out of action; to give such a severe blow as to cause unconsciousness; to knock for a loop, to throw off balance, to disorient or confuse.
battle royal A free-for-all; an encounter of many combatants; a heated argument or altercation.