In Reply to: Pistols for two, coffee for one posted by John G on December 05, 2008 at 09:02:
: "Pistols for two, coffee for one". Please provide the origin of this phrase.
It refers to the 18th- and 19th-century custom of duelling. Each duellist nominated a "second" to assist him; their job was to provide everything necessary for the duel, such as a pistol each, and refreshment afterwards. If one of them was killed in the duel, obviously only "coffee for one" would be required! I don't know if this saying dates genuinely from the age of duel, or just from more recent historical novels. But the phrase is quite often used of any face-off contest in which there can be only onee winner. (VSD)