the buttons came off the foils

the buttons came off the foils
(the buttons came (или were) off the foils)
≈ страсти разгорелись не на шутку (в споре) [букв. с рапир слетели наконечники]

Lord Illingworth: "...But, if you wish let us stay here. Yes, let us stay here. The Book of Life begins with a man and a woman in a garden." Mrs. Allonby: "It ends with Revelations." Lord Illingworth: "You fence divinely. But the button has come off your foil." Mrs. Allonby: "I have still the mask." Lord Illingworth: "It makes your eye lovelier." (O. Wilde, ‘A Woman of No Importance’, act I) — Лорд Иллингворт: "...Но если хотите, останемся здесь. Да, останемся. Книга Жизни начинается с мужчины и женщины в саду." Миссис Оллонби: "А кончается Откровением." Лорд Иллингворт: "Вы парируете божественно. Но с вашей рапиры соскочил наконечник - это опасно." Миссис Оллонби: "Зато маска еще на мне." Лорд Иллингворт: "От этого ваши глаза только сильнее блестят."

There were many opposing views at the meeting and soon the buttons were off the foils. — На собрании было высказано много различных мнений, и скоро страсти разгорелись.

Большой англо-русский фразеологический словарь. - М.: «Русский язык-Медиа».. 2006.

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