scorched earth policy

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scorched earth pol·i·cy • n. a military strategy of burning or destroying buildings, crops, or other resources that might be of use to an invading enemy force. ∎ fig. a strategy that involves taking extreme action: a lawyer renowned for his scorched earth policy in divorce cases.

scorched earth policy

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scorched earth policy a military strategy of burning or destroying crops or other resources that might be of use to an invading enemy force; the term is first used in English in 1937 in a report of the Sino-Japanese conflict, and is apparently a translation of Chinese jiāotŭ (zhèngcè) ‘scorched earth (policy)’.