lower one's colours

lower one's colours
(lower (или strike) one's (или the) colours)
сдаваться, покоряться, признавать себя побеждённым; сдать свои позиции, спасовать

About three weeks after the elephant's disappearance I was about to say, one morning, that I should have to strike my colours and retire, when the great detective arrested the thought by proposing one more superb and masterly move. (M. Twain, ‘Short Stories’, ‘The Stolen White Elephant’) — Однажды утром, недели через три после пропажи слона, я уже собирался сказать, что спасовал, и удалиться восвояси, когда великий сыщик, словно прочитав мою мысль, предложил еще один блистательный, мастерской ход.

Waterton now found his weight was not sufficient to hold down this writhing monster, and therefore called to the second negro to throw himself upon him. At this the snake struck its colours... (R. Aldington, ‘The Strange Life of Charles Waterton’, ch. VII) — Уотертон понял, что ему не удержать тяжестью своего тела это извивающееся чудовище. Он позвал второго негра, тот бросился на помощь. И змея перестала биться...

I've just written sending in my resignation, and I feel it terribly. Nothing, except my health, could have made me strike my colours... (SPI) — Я только что отослал заявление об отставке и ужасно расстроен. Если бы не здоровье, ничто не заставило бы меня так легко сдать позиции...

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

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