on bended knee

Humbly, pleading, as in They're desperate for funds; they're asking for contributions on bended knee. This expression alludes to a traditional attitude of supplication. Bended, the past tense of bend, survives only in this idiom, elsewhere having been replaced by bent. [Mid-1600s]

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