take cover: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘take cover’ mean?

The idiom "take cover" means to seek shelter or protection from imminent danger or harm. It implies the need to find a safe place to shield oneself from potential threats or hazards.

Idiom Explorer

Exposed Legends

The idiom "take cover" is a common command that tells someone to seek protection or shelter. It originated from the military, where soldiers would find cover behind barriers to protect themselves from enemy attacks. Nowadays, it is used in everyday language to convey the need for self-protection or avoidance in different situations. Let's explore how this idiom is related to other idioms like "break cover," "cover up," "cover one's feet," and "cover one's bases."

Firstly, let's talk about "break cover." This idiom refers to someone who reveals themselves after being concealed or hiding. It can be used in various situations where someone decides to come out of hiding, whether it's a person emerging from a physical hiding place or revealing a secret. In the context of "take cover," the two idioms share a common theme of hiding or seeking protection. While "take cover" emphasizes the act of seeking shelter immediately, "break cover" focuses on the action of revealing oneself after being hidden.

Seek shelter to protect and defend from danger.

Next, we have "cover up." This idiom is often used when someone conceals or hides a mistake, wrongdoing, or evidence of something. It implies an attempt to prevent something from being discovered or exposed. Although "take cover" and "cover up" have different meanings on the surface, they both involve the idea of hiding or concealing. While "take cover" suggests finding physical protection, "cover up" suggests hiding information or actions to avoid consequences or embarrassment.

Now, let's discuss "cover one's feet." This idiom is not as widely known as the others, but it refers to protecting one's feet from dirt, damage, or the elements. It can be applied when someone wears appropriate footwear or takes measures to keep their feet clean and safe. Although "cover one's feet" may not have an obvious connection to "take cover," they share a common thread of protection. While "take cover" is about finding overall protection, "cover one's feet" focuses specifically on safeguarding one part of the body.

Lastly, we have "cover one's bases." This idiom expresses the idea of taking all necessary precautions or actions to ensure success or avoid failure. It relates to the concept of ensuring that all possibilities are considered and accounted for. In the context of "take cover," both idioms share the theme of self-preservation. While "take cover" emphasizes the act of seeking immediate protection, "cover one's bases" suggests taking precautionary measures to be fully prepared and protected.

The idiom "take cover" instructs someone to seek refuge or protection. It has its origins in the military, but it has also become a commonly used phrase in everyday language. Idioms like "break cover," "cover up," "cover one's feet," and "cover one's bases" share a common theme of protection and hiding. While each idiom has its own specific meaning, they all convey the importance of self-preservation. Whether it's finding physical shelter, concealing information, protecting one's feet, or taking precautions, these idioms showcase the diverse ways in which language can convey the need for safety and self-protection.

Example usage

Examples of how the idiom "take cover" can be used in a sentence:

  • When the storm approached, we quickly took cover in the basement.
  • The soldier shouted for his comrades to take cover as the enemy started firing.
  • As soon as the earthquake struck, people ran out of their houses to take cover in open spaces.

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