[Ads-l] Query: "take a knee"

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sat Dec 15 18:54:06 UTC 2018

Ben Zimmer discussed the phrase “take a knee” in the football domain here:

Bill Mullins found the expression "take a knee rest" employed by
hunters in the 1890s.

Why this formulation? Here is a guess from a non-linguist. The term
“kneel” was blocked because it typically referred to kneeling on two

The existing expression “take a rest” was expanded to "take a knee
rest" by the 1890s (or earlier). Later it was clipped to yield "take a


On Sat, Dec 15, 2018 at 12:43 PM Cohen, Gerald Leonard <gcohen at mst.edu> wrote:
> I've received a query: Why do we say "take
> a knee" (e.g. of football players)?  In what way is
> a knee "taken"?
> Would anyone have an explanation?
> Gerald Cohen
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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