knock some proverbial heads

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Eugens

Senior Member
Argentina Spanish
Hello!

A forero wrote:

"I look forward to your contribution and collaboration in Culture, as well as watching you knock some proverbial heads once in a while!"

I looked up expressions with "knock" and "head", but I'm not sure if any applies here:
knock some sense into somebody/into somebody's head
informal to make someone learn to behave in a more sensible way

knock (somebody's) heads together
informal to tell people who are arguing that they must stop and behave more sensibly

knock something on the head
to stop something happening

:eek: I'm at a loss here...
 
  • GenJen54

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Hi Eugens,

    Your findings are correct, (aka "You hit the nail on the proverbial head.") The expression is: "knock some heads," which does mean to knock some sense into somebody.

    "Proverbial" is used often, at least in AE, to emphasize the use of a fixed expression. Since "knock some heads" is a fixed expression, the use of "proverbial" here serves two purposes:

    1. Directly, it emphasizes the proverbial nature of the expression;
    2. Indirectly, it helps "soften the blow" as it were, so the heads knocking together won't make quite such a racket, or a mess! ;)
     

    nycphotography

    Senior Member
    American English
    Well, knocking heads can also be testerone induced male mating behavior (such as bighorn sheep). There is an also implication of stubborness and illogic that applies.

    Proverbially means to do it figuratively, rather than literally, for example, by arguing with people, rather than physically assaulting them.

    "They knocked heads over property taxes again."

    And of course the tone of the overall sentence is slightly sarcastic, implying a more good natured, friendly tone than the "pissing contest" that proverbial "head knocking" suggests.

    Although in this case, it implies a rather one sided aspect to the head knocking, which makes the above not apply to this particular example.
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    nycphotography said:
    Well, knocking heads can also be testerone induced male mating behavior (such as bighorn sheep). There is an also implication of stubborness and illogic that applies.

    Proverbially means to do it figuratively, rather than literally, for example, by arguing with people, rather than physically assaulting them.

    "They knocked heads over property taxes again."

    And of course the tone of the overall sentence is slightly sarcastic, implying a more good natured, friendly tone than the "pissing contest" that proverbial "head knocking" suggests.

    Although in this case, it implies a rather one sided aspect to the head knocking, which makes the above not apply to this particular example.
    I've usually heard that behaviour called "head butting", both for the big hornsheep, deer, &c, and the figurative use.
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    I agree that "knocking heads" is different from head-butting. I think it pretty much specifically means knocking heads together-- you grab each miscreant by the hair on the back of his head or scruff of his neck, and you clash them like cymbals. Nothing works quite like it.

    Of course I'm talking about the literal action that the figurative stuff is based on. But in the "proverbial" sense too, I think "knocking heads" means you knock other people's heads together, and your own is not involved. People who knock heads are nowhere near on a par with their charges-- dominance has been very decisively settled and isn't in question, the issue is imposing discipline.
    .
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    As this quotation very distinctly relates to the recent elevation of GenJen to Moderator in the Culture Forum, we can be quite certain that it relates to the expectation that she will metaphorically knock together the heads of the deviant miscreants in that forum to the enormous benefit of us all.
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    GenJen! Knock Panj's head, quick before he edits his post! Tell him "deviant miscreants" is unnecessarily redundant.
    .
     
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