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take the wind out of one's sails

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Hamper or stop one, put one at a disadvantage, as in When they announced they were doing the same study as ours, it took the wind out of our sails, or The applause for the concertmaster took the wind out of the conductor's sails. This expression alludes to sailing to windward of another ship, thereby robbing it of wind for its sails. [Early 1800s]

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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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