English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I can't seem to find much about this expression online, and its usage eludes me somewhat.

I'm guessing that it's supposed to mean that someone is being overcome by another party, a winner in a debate or some form of sparring?

Example sentence:

They could swing their big money around and knock them out of the water.

Does that make sense?

share|improve this question
"USAGE"!!! ahhhhhh :-) – kalaracey Dec 30 '10 at 20:27
@kalaracey I don't get it :? – gakera Dec 30 '10 at 20:34
Sorry, I just meant that lots of people get upset when someone uses the word "usage." It's a really overused word, but I'm sure its fine in your sentence. :) – kalaracey Dec 31 '10 at 21:36
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Usually the cliché used with knock is "knock them down."

Where water is concerned, the usual cliché is "blow them out of the water." The reference is to naval combat, which seems perfectly appropriate.

share|improve this answer
ahh duh :) too bad my email is already sent :P – gakera Dec 30 '10 at 20:32
+1 Mixed metaphor, probably confusion with knock you out. – Orbling Dec 30 '10 at 20:44
...and for additional oomph, say "blow them clear out of the water". :D – user730 Dec 31 '10 at 8:41
I think the original may be confused with 'knocked (it) out of the park'. A baseball allusion, I believe. – Eamonn Apr 1 '12 at 18:10

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.