I read an article, and here is an excerpt:

"One instance involved a staff member emailing his work group to say he'd completed a job, which the interviewee interpreted as 'big-noting' himself," Dr Yell said. "Consequently, he replied with a sarcastic email, cc'ed to the group, asking 'what took him so long', in order to 'kick him off his peg'.

What does "kick him off his peg" mean? And what is it's origin?


3 Answers 3


This is a variation of "take down a peg [or two]". From The Phrase Finder:


To 'take (or pull, or bring) down a peg (or two)' is to lower someone's high opinion of themselves.


Various quantities and qualities have been measured by the use of pegs. It has been suggested that the pegs in question here were those used to regulate the amount of drink taken from a barrel, or those that controlled the hoisting of the colours (flags) of ships. Either of these might be correct although, like the 'yards' of 'the whole nine yards', 'pegs' could relate to many things.

It is interesting though that all the early citations of the phrase have a religious context. For example:

  • Pappe with An Hatchet, 1589 - "Now haue at you all my gaffers of the rayling religion, tis I that must take you a peg lower."

  • Joseph Mead's Letters, 1625 - "A-talking of the brave times that would be shortly... when... the Bishop of Chester, that bore himself so high, should be hoisted a peg higher to his little ease."

  • Samuel Butler's Hudibras, 1664 - "We still have worsted all your holy Tricks,... And took your Grandees down a peg."

If the pegs were some religious artifact, it isn't clear what they were. Lacking any real evidence, we can't be sure of the origin.

  • Could you please cite a source that actually states that "kick him off his peg" is actually a variant of "take him down a peg", and not actually another saying?
    – Thursagen
    Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 10:44
  • Probably not. The only Google result for "kick him off his peg" is this question, and not even your source article! Asking what took him so long to "kick him off his peg" in the source article is used exactly to lower the high self-opinion of the staff member who's just emailed the whole group to announce he's completed his work.
    – Hugo
    Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 10:54
  • @Ham Why should he though? Can you show that 'kick him off a peg' is actually a saying it all? One person saying it doesn't make a saying, if you are claiming it is different then it's localized and off-topic.
    – z7sg Ѫ
    Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 10:54
  • Also no results for "kick him off his peg" in Google Books: google.com/…
    – Hugo
    Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 10:56
  • Oh, well, thanks for your answer. I'll believe it:):)
    – Thursagen
    Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 11:00

The phrase in the article is worded as "in order to 'kick him off his peg'" rather than "kick him off a peg".

IMO, this is a combination the author has invented putting together "take or knock someone off their pedestal" with "take down a peg"

"knock sb off their pedestal" defined as

to show people that someone is not as perfect as they seem to be

The key word being the usage of the personal pronoun "his" which goes along with the "pedestal" idion rather than "peg".


I believe this is a "mixed metaphor". They are sort of mashing up the common phrase "take him down a peg" (to humble a person a bit) with the phrase "knock him off his pedestal" (meaning roughly the same thing, but taking them down way more than a little bit, and from higher).

There's a whole page of other such mixed sayings I found here.

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