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English definition of “fire a (warning) shot across sb's bow”

fire a (warning) shot across sb's bow

formal
to do something in order to warn someone that you will take strong action if that person does not change their behaviour: Airline staff have fired a warning shot across the company's bows by threatening to strike if higher pay increases are not offered.
(Definition of fire a (warning) shot across sb's bow from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
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