Go to the mattresses


      • prepare for battle
        To make all necessary preparations for a fight or confrontation, typically one that is expected or imminent

      • resort to extreme measures
        To take extreme or drastic actions, usually as a last resort, in order to achieve a desired outcome or defend oneself

    Examples of Go to the mattresses

    • In order to defend himself against his enemies, Tony decided to go to the mattresses.

      This idiom is derived from the phrase "sleeping on the mattress" which means sleeping in one's bed. In the context of this idiom, it means to prepare for a violent confrontation by withdrawing into one's trusted inner circle, typically one's family or close associates, and placing one's trust in them solely. In other words, "going to the mattresses" refers to taking an extremely defensive stance, possibly to the point of becoming Wall Street Mafia-style gangsters. This phrase originated in the late 1960s in New York City's Little Italy during the conflicts between rival crime families, but it can be applied more broadly to any situation where someone is forced to resort to extreme measures for self-preservation.

    • The gang leader warned his members, "If anything happens to any of you, it's every man for himself. Go to the mattresses!"

      This idiom, "go to the mattresses," is used to describe a situation where people take extreme measures to defend themselves or their territory, usually in response to threatened or actual violence. The origin of this expression comes from the practice of storing weapons and supplies, including mattresses, under the beds in Mafia-controlled buildings during Prohibition era. When the phrase "go to the mattresses" was coined, it implicitly meant "arm yourself and prepare for war." In this example, the gang leader is making it clear that if any harm comes to his members, they will have to fight for themselves, and this should serve as a warning to their enemies. It connotes a serious and dangerous situation, where survival becomes the top priority.


    The idiom "go to the mattresses" is often used to refer to preparing for a battle or resorting to extreme measures. It can also convey a sense of determination, as one is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their goals or defend themselves.

    Origin of "Go to the mattresses"

    The origin of this idiom can be traced back to the Italian phrase "andare sui materassi," which translates to "go to the mattresses." This phrase was often used during the 19th century in Italy to describe the act of taking up arms and fighting against an enemy.

    However, the phrase gained widespread popularity and recognition through its use in Mario Puzo's novel "The Godfather" and the subsequent film adaptation. In the story, the phrase is used by the Corleone family to describe their preparations for a full-out war with their rival mafia families.

    Today, the phrase is still used in popular culture to refer to preparing for a confrontation or taking extreme measures. It has also become a common metaphor for any situation in which one is willing to put in intense effort and determination in order to achieve success.