"To knock the wind out of (somebody)" is an expression that I've seen quite a few times but I was never quite sure exactly what it means (both in terms of literal meaning and connotation). What exactly does it mean?

Thanks.
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"To knock the wind out of (somebody)" is an expression that I've seen quite a few times but I was never quite sure exactly what it means (both in terms of literal meaning and connotation). What exactly does it mean?

If it's happened to you, you would understand it completely. A blow to the midsection, high-up near the sternum, can cause you to be unable to breath for several seconds. (It will seem like an eternity) You feel paralyzed.
It can happen if you are struck by someone or something or if you suffer a serious fall. It happened to me in a fall off a roof.

It's used metaphorically more than it is used to describe a real condition. Something that shocks you greatly is said to "knock the wind out of you" because it "takes your breath away". In the metaphorical sense, it just means something very shocking or surprising.

Tony Cooper
Orlando, FL
"To knock the wind out of (somebody)" is an expression ... of literal meaning and connotation). What exactly does it mean?

If it's happened to you, you would understand it completely. A blow to the midsection, high-up near the sternum, can ... your breath away". In the metaphorical sense, it just means something very shocking or surprising. Tony Cooper Orlando, FL

I thought that it was just a shortening of 'knock the wind out of your sails' which meant discomfit and paralyse you completely so that you can't even react.
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If it's happened to you, you would understand it completely. ... metaphorical sense, it just means something very shocking or surprising.

I thought that it was just a shortening of 'knock the wind out of your sails' which meant discomfit and paralyse you completely so that you can't even react.

I'm with Tony: to me, it means being winded by a force to the chest.
Happened to me once or twice as a child; the one I particularly remember was when I fell of the top of a 4-foot-high garden fence, and smacked my chest on the ground. I recall feeling absolute panic when it happened.

Cheers, Harvey
Canadian and British English, indiscriminately mixed
"To knock the wind out of (somebody)" is an expression that I've seen quite a few times but I was never quite sure exactly what it means (both in terms of literal meaning and connotation). What exactly does it mean?

Startle or surprise them so much that they are (figuratively) gasping for breath.

Francis Cameron
tony (Email Removed) had it:
"To knock the wind out of (somebody)" is an expression ... of literal meaning and connotation). What exactly does it mean?

If it's happened to you, you would understand it completely. A blow to the midsection, high-up near the sternum, can ... of you" because it "takes your breath away". In the metaphorical sense, it just means something very shocking or surprising.

It's also worth reporting the sailing term - "to take the wind out of someone's sails" which means to pass another boat to windward, thus depriving them of the wind. Their boat loses power and speed. Figuratively, it means putting forward an argument to which the other person has no response, hence putting them at a disadvantage.

David
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If it's happened to you, you would understand it completely. ... something very shocking or surprising. Tony Cooper Orlando, FL

I thought that it was just a shortening of 'knock the wind out of your sails' which meant discomfit and paralyse you completely so that you can't even react.

No, it has a literal meaning as Tony describes. "Knock the wind out of your sails" may have a similar metaphorical meaning but the two terms seem to come from quite different sources.
Mind you, now that I think of it I believe the more common term is "Take the wind out of your sails" which is some kind of sailing manoeuvre where a ship or boat blocks the wind from another vessel. "Knocking the wind out of your sails" probably is also known as ramming in maritime terms.
John Kane, Kingston ON Canada
tony cooper...@earthlink.net had it:

If it's happened to you, you would understand it completely. ... metaphorical sense, it just means something very shocking or surprising.

It's also worth reporting the sailing term - "to take the wind out of someone's sails" which means to pass ... no response, hence putting them at a disadvantage. David ==- Hide quoted text - - Show quoted text -

Yeah, this is what I thought and said.
tony cooper...@earthlink.net had it: It's also worth reporting the sailing ... person has no response, hence putting them at a disadvantage.

Yeah, this is what I thought and said.

Notice the difference, though: the OP asked about "knock the wind out of someone", whereas David's mentioned the sailing term of "take the wind out of...sails".
"Knocking" the wind out of someone's sails isn't the expression that's used for the sailing manoeuvre, and as John Kane has posted, it would probably mean something different.

Cheers, Harvey
Canadian and British English, indiscriminately mixed
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