Bowl over


Senior Member
Mandarin Chinese
Correct me if I am wrong. I think that "bowl over" means to knock down or push over as in the game of bowling. Could I use it outside the context of bowling, like "John bowled over his opponents in his pursuit of the candidacy"? Could you give me an example of proper usage?
  • Wynn Mathieson

    Senior Member
    English - United Kingdom
    The basic meaning of "bowl over" today is: astonish, surprise greatly, overwhelm [usually, in a pleasurable way], as in
    I was simply bowled over by their wonderful performance

    It is said to come origianlly from the game of cricket, although it could also derive from a number of other games, such as skittles.

    Other examples of its use:
    He was bowled over to hear that he'd won £1000
    We were
    bowled over by the beautiful beaches
    They were
    bowled over by its dazzling style
    He is
    bowled over to have been selected
    She was bowled over that anyone remembered her

    I think that "John bowled over his opponents in his pursuit of the candidacy" might well be misconstrued as meaning that he astonished them rather than that he overwhelmed them (despite that being the original, sporting meaning of the phrase), so I would recommend you use it with caution in such a context.

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