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EnglishEdit

Alternative formsEdit

  • (obsolete) set together by the ears (see quots. 1623, 1712)

PronunciationEdit

  • (file)

VerbEdit

set by the ears

  1. (transitive, idiomatic) To make (a person or persons) argue; to set quarrelling.
    • 1623, John Chamberlain in The Works of Francis Bacon, vol. 14, Cambridge University Press (2011), →ISBN, page 430:
      [The patrimony of the King's children] was not to be recovered but by […] a bloody and uncertain war, and setting all Christendom together by the ears.
    • 1712, John Arbuthnot, “The History of John Bull”, in George A. Aitken, The Life and Works of John Arbuthnot, Clarendon Press (1892), page 225:
      Then she used to carry tales and stories from one to another, till she had set the whole neighbourhood together by the ears; […]
    • 1862, “The Simonides Controversy”, in K. Simonides, The Periplus of Hannon, Trübner & Co. (1864), page 42:
      never did any man possess in so extraordinary a degree the faculty of setting people by the ears, of provoking dissension, and of creating strife.
    • 1913, Fairfax Cartwright, in T. G. Otte, July Crisis, Cambridge University Press (2014), →ISBN, page 140:
      Servia will some day set Europe by the ears and bring about a universal war on the Continent, […]
    • 1971, Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic, Folio Society 2012, p. 155:
      Even the best-intentioned minister could set a parish by the ears, so a single-minded insistence on the elimination of a vice could make him a figure of terror rather than an approachable counsellor […].

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