What does the idiom "bring to one's knees" mean?

Idioms are generally defined as groups of words that form a meaningful whole when they come together, even though the words in them do not make sense on their own. They have produced many idioms according to their own cultural characteristics in communities using the English language. What does bring to one's knees mean? In what situations is bring to one's knees used?

Meaning of "bring to one's knees"

Meaning

The phrase 'bring to one's knees' is an idiom used to describe a situation where a person is weakened, either through physical or nonphysical means. This phrase implies a sense of powerlessness and helplessness, and it is usually used to refer to a situation that has caused a person to become overwhelmed or defeated. Additionally, the phrase can also be used to describe a situation where an individual has been weakened beyond their own ability to overcome a problem or challenge, as if their strength or resolve has been taken away.

Etymology

This phrase is thought to have originated in the early 19th century. It likely comes from the traditional way that people would kneel in submission to a higher power, such as a king or ruler. Kneeling was seen to be a sign of respect and recognition, and this phrase is thought to have been used as a metaphor for a situation where an individual is brought to a state of submission, either through physical or nonphysical means.

Usage

The phrase ‘bring to one's knees’ usually carries a negative connotation, as it is used to describe a situation where a person has been overwhelmed or defeated. It is usually used to refer to situations of submission or surrender, such as in moments of war, where one side has been forced to yield in order to avoid further harm or destruction. The phrase can also be used colloquially to refer to any situation where somebody has been weakened or brought to a state of helplessness. For example, a person may be described as having been ‘brought to their knees’ if they have been completely and unexpectedly overwhelmed by a challenge or dilemma.

Example Sentences

  • The team was brought to their knees by the other side's relentless attack.
  • The scandal was so damaging that it brought the politician to his knees.
  • The daunting task seemed impossible, but eventually it brought him to his knees.
  • Her determination was admirable, but the challenge eventually brought her to her knees.

The meanings of the words in the "bring to one's knees" idiom

Idioms have a common language

"The early bird catches the worm" is an English idiom that means that those who wake up early and start their day early are more likely to succeed. A similar idiom in Spanish is "El que madruga, Dios le ayuda," which translates to "God helps those who rise early." This idiom emphasizes the importance of starting the day early in order to achieve success.

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