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Language Arts

All is Fair in Love and War

All is fair in love and war. This is a popular phrases of our day. Movies, music, books and character plots have been written based on this concept. This article will help explain the origin and definition behind the popular idiom, all is fair in love and war.

While some may or may not agree with the statement, all is fair in love and war has been used to describe and justify actions to get to the bottom line whatever the cost in matters of both love and war. The popular expression defines and compares love and war as if both are extreme matters or a competition where the prize is worth any price. In pop culture, the idiom is often used to justify matters of cheating and adultery within a relationship. One of the first references of the now-common saying was first noted in a work of literature, a novel entitled Don Quixote written by Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes in 1604. This book is often considered to be one of the greatest works of fiction ever published.

"Love and war are all one . . . It is lawful to use sleights and stratagems to . . . attain the wished end." 
Because of the popularity of the novel, the phrase also grew in popularity referencing war comparisons to love. These comparisons continued frequently throughout the years in literature and other forms. It was in a novel written in 1850 by Frank Smedley called Frank Fairlegh: Scenes From the Life of a Private Pupil where we first saw the exact phrasing we continue to use today. 
"You opened the letter!" exclaimed I.
"In course I did; how was I to read it if I hadn't? All's fair in love and war, you know . . ."
The saying is often used to describe being able to get away with doing virtually anything in cases of love, and it is fair play. Because in cases of love and war, we are at our height of human emotion, analytical thought and insight are often not considered when making decision. For example, when a man finds out his wife is cheating on him, he might consider ill-planned action and seek revenge by ruining her belongings, equal retaliation or he might do something even worse according to the logic of all is fair in love and war. Because of this way of thinking, the commonly used phrase continues to remain one of the most popular expressions of all time. 
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