To level a blow at

Paolo Yogurt

Senior Member
Italiano, veneto - veronese
Hi everyone!

I've found this phrase, "to level a blow at," in a line of an article about the South Ossetia crisis. Here's the complete line: "Putin had tried for years to prevent Kosovo from declaring its independence from Serbia, and when the Kosovars went ahead, with strong American and European support, last February, Putin responded by leveling a blow at America's Caucasus darling [ie Georgia]" And here's my try: "Erano anni che Putin provava a impedire al Kosovo di dichiararsi indipendente dalla Serbia, e, quando i kosovari decisero lo scorso febbraio di separarsi comunque, Putin rispose tenendo sotto scacco la nazione caucasica coccolata dagli Usa."

I'm not sure that it's the actual meaning of "leveling a blow at": "tenere sotto scacco" is an Italian idiom, which means, roughly, "threatening someone preventing one's reaction." Is it an English idiom? What do you think?

Thank you in advance.
  • baldpate

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    Hi Paolo Yogurt,

    this use of "level" means to "aim" or "point". It is most often used in the context of guns - hand-wapons such as rifles, pistols etc. Such weapons are normally carried in a 'safe' position, in which the barrel is not horizontal (that is not level with the ground). Hence, I believe the term came about : to "level" your gun at somebody means to point it or aim it, ready to actually shoot.

    By extension it has come to be used with blows of the hand. To "level" a punch at somebody's head would be to take aim with your fist, intending to land such a blow. In the context of blows it has also been further extended to mean the action of actually launching the punch.

    So, in your sentence, I think you could translate it with "lanciare" (lanciare un colpetto?)

    AFTERTHOUGHT: or perhaps as "cercare di colpire" (take a swing at), which I think sounds slightly more equivocal and perhaps corresponds better with what we know actually happened.


    Senior Member
    Ragazzini: to level a blow at sb., assestare (o vibrare) un colpo a q.
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