Last modified on 26 July 2014, at 20:27

handbags at dawn



1980s UK.[1] Jocular derivation of pistols at dawn, replacing “pistols” with “handbags”, referring to women hitting each other with handbags during a catfight. Originated in football, possibly influenced by good handbagging (verbal dressing down), in reference to then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher; and Monty Python skit “The Batley Townswomens' Guild presents the Battle of Pearl Harbor” (season 1, episode 11. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Goes to the Bathroom, December 1969), in which the actors flail at each other with handbags.[1]


handbags at dawn (uncountable)

  1. (UK, humorous, idiomatic) A catty squabble.

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  1. 1.0 1.1 Handbags at ten paces”, The Phrase Finder, Gary Martin.