[Ads-l] knock for a loop (1916), throw for a loop (1925)

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jan 25 00:46:37 UTC 2015

On Sat, Jan 24, 2015 at 6:57 PM, Douglas G. Wilson wrote:
> Along with "knock for a loop" I see numerous instances of the synonymous
> "knock for a goal" back to 1915, often in boxing.
> I also see (in baseball) in the same era "knock for a home run", "knock
> for a two-bagger", etc., where at a glance it's apparently the batter
> "knocking" the pitcher.
> Maybe the "goal" is analogous to a "home run"? Hockey? Football?

I figured it was a football reference -- one is hit like a football
getting kicked for a field goal.

Here's the 1915 cite I assume Doug is talking about, from Tad Dorgan's
syndicated column, "Just an Earful":

1915 _Denver Post_ 18 Dec. 7/1 Willie says the next thing he knew a
bell rang and he walked over, shook hands with the referee and knocked
him for a goal.

> Then what is the "loop"? Was "loop" ever used for "home run"?

Not that I know of. Dickson's Baseball Dictionary says it has meant "a
poorly hit pop fly" (a.k.a. a "looper"). But in this case it seems
more likely to be a shortened form of "loop-the-loop" as Garson and
Hugo suggest.

> Perhaps those more familiar with sports slang can make more of these
> expressions.
> I also see "knock for a row", often expanded or elaborated (fancifully?)
> (e.g., "... row of garages", "... row of Chilean doorknobs", "... row of
> Chinese pagodas", "... row of duck pins", "... row of Nevada horse cars").

GDoS lists several such variants. Here are some more from 1919 issues
of _Our Navy_:

1919 _Our Navy_ July 5/2 [T]he gob, a big hecker from the oil fields
of Oklahoma, knocked "Scotty" the hero for a row of trolley poles.

1919 _Our Navy_ Aug. 53/2 Willie will probably be knocked for a loop
of smoke houses.

1919 _Our Navy_ Sept. 55/2 We often wonder whether, if an American
knocked an Englishman for a row of jack staffs, the referee would hand
him the decision as he left the ring on a Helen Gould cot?

1919 _Our Navy_ Oct. 41/2 Taylor went right after Constantine at the
jump and it looked as though the Mare Island entry would be knocked
for a row of spud lockers in the first round.


Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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