To throw up the sponge

Definitions

  • Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • To throw up the sponge to give up a contest; to acknowledge defeat; -- from a custom of the prize ring, the person employed to sponge a pugilist between rounds throwing his sponge in the air in token of defeat; -- now, throw in the towel is more common, and has the same origin and meaning.
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Usage

In literature:

We must stand up to our fight now, or throw up the sponge.
"Robbery Under Arms" by Thomas Alexander Browne, AKA Rolf Boldrewood
If there ain't I'll have to throw up the sponge.
"The Voice of the City" by O. Henry
Yes, but they are not the people to throw up the sponge at the first blow.
"An Enemy of the People" by Henrik Ibsen
There were times when I was tempted to throw up the sponge.
"Herb of Grace" by Rosa Nouchette Carey
I might as well throw up the sponge at once, if we are to stay here.
"Big Game" by Mrs. George de Horne Vaizey
He throws up the sponge; he has done his best an' failed, so away he goes like the sow that was washed to his wallowing in the mire.
"The Young Trawler" by R.M. Ballantyne
We certainly don't mean to throw up the sponge, when we're so near the end of the race.
"Boy Scouts on Hudson Bay" by G. Harvey Ralphson
Whatever happened, she was a poor thing to throw up the sponge in a month.
"The Lady of the Basement Flat" by Mrs. George de Horne Vaizey
A year ago I was ready to throw up the sponge.
"Northern Nut Growers Association Report of the Proceedings at the Eleventh Annual Meeting" by Various
And now to talk of throwing up the sponge!
"Ralph the Heir" by Anthony Trollope
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