At one fell swoop
This expression straight out of Shakespeare now means suddenly or all at once. In Macbeth (1605) Act IV, Scene III, on hearing the terrible news that his wife and children have been murdered, Macduff laments, “All my pretty ones? Did you say all? O hell-kite! All? What, all my pretty chickens and their dam at one fell swoop?” Shakespeare describes the murders by using the metaphor of a kite from hell swooping on defenceless chickens. In its modern usage, the expression has all but lost this original savagery. Fell is an archaic word from the 13th century meaning cruel, savage, ruthless or dreadful. Felon and felony derive from the same root.