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bring to one's knees

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Make one submit; reduce to a position of subservience. For example, Solitary confinement usually brings prisoners to their knees. This particular phrase dates only from the late 1800s, although there were earlier versions alluding to being on one's knees as a gesture of submission.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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