Learn and discuss the Finnish language with Finn's and foreigners alike
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Literally it means that a weapon (e.g. a rifle) has live ammunition (and not e.g. blanks) loaded in it and is ready to fire. "Kova" referring to the live (real) ammunition ("kovat" being plural), and "piipussa" meaning "in the barrel", i.e. chambered. Figuratively it means "meaning business", not playing around, being on the brink of taking or being ready to take drastic measures in order to resolve a situation.