being the first to fold


Senior Member
Cantonese, Hong Kong
Guys who talk tough have a habit of being the first to fold. He thought Rookman was pretty genuine. It wasn’t all an act, was it?

No. Rookman was a sincere guy.He was a ball-buster for sure. But he had character. If Rookman noticed the car, he probably decided it wasn’t any of his business.
Source: Public Zero Enemy, Andrew Mayne

Background: On his way to work, Mitchell got into a fight with a crazy murderous woman. She struck and smashed the car door when he got back into his car. Back at his workplace, he decided to keep the incident to himself and parked the car in a lot next to his colleague Rookman's car. Not long after, he realized that the car window was still imprinted with her blood , so he rushed back to the parking lot. Things became complicated when he noticed that Rookman's car was gone - He must have seen the mess on his car.

Hi, I'm puzzled by "to fold". I've checked dictionaries but none of the definitions seem to fit in this context. If I had to guess, I'd say it means some guys talk tough but act like cowards when they are in trouble." If anyone has any ideas, I'd really appreciate it.

  • Tazzler

    Senior Member
    American English
    It seems to be this definition: 4. Informal
    a. To give in; buckle: a team that never folded under pressure.
    b. To weaken or collapse from exertion.


    Senior Member
    English - American
    In Poker to fold is to declare that you do not think you can win a particular hand, that you are abandoning any claim to all previous bets, and are not going to continue play in that hand.

    It is from this that to fold has come to mean to give up or quit under pressure or in the face of adversity. (Possibly folding in Poker derives from this meaning rather than the other way around, but I think this is correct. The dictionary is not clear on the subject.)

    Mitchell is saying that Rookman is probably a truly tough guy, and not likely to fold because he is afraid of the situation. If he has gone away, it must be for some other reason than fear, perhaps because he thought that the blood was not his business.


    Senior Member
    American English
    According to etymonline "fold" in this sense is attested in the late 14th century, and I think poker is a more modern creation, so the game borrowed the word, it seems.
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