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Spike someone's guns

Posted by Smokey Stover on September 02, 2008 at 15:09

In Reply to: Spike someone's guns posted by Chris on September 01, 2008 at 18:25:

: What's the origin of the phrase to 'spike someone's guns'?

In the 17th century and later, if you wanted to disable a cannon or similar gun, you would drive a spike, or large nail, into the touchhole, or fill the touchhole with a spike. (You might do this to your own guns, if you thought they would fall into the hands of an enemy.)

It has been used figuratively since then until the present. You spike someone's guns by rendering his arguments or whatever advantages he might have inoperative. You can also, figuratively, spike someone's plans, or spike someone's objections. This is not, however, the same as spiking someone's drink, or spiking a newspaper story.