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Most stock markets lost ground after their recent gains.
They're not prepared to give ground on tax cuts.

These are all the examples I could dig up in my dictionaries. I don't quite understand the meaning because every dictionary says something different.

Does give/lose ground mean fail completely or lose an advantage or both?

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closed as off-topic by Kris, choster, user49727, Brian Hooper, Rory Alsop Nov 11 '13 at 19:54

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Lose/gain ground give/hold ground are idiomatic and phrasal verbs

  1. The expressions give ground and hold, stand, and shift one's ground refer to a position or viewpoint, as in an argument , controversy or struggle.

  2. In the phrases "gain ground" and "lose ground" the meaning is 'position or advantage is surrendered / lost' as in an argumennt, competition, and of course "Price of the Shares" in your sentence.

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I'd agree that they're crystallised verb+noun constructions (like 'catch fire', 'lose face' but not 'lose everything'. These constructions are not usually called 'phrasal verbs' (a term I avoid completely, as being ill-defined). – Edwin Ashworth Nov 10 '13 at 15:45

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