We are a certain way now because we were knocked off a more fulfilling trajectory years ago by a primal wound.

(This is a sentence from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgUlowmSeHo at 2:12)

What does "be knocked off" mean here? and how can a noun ( or seemingly an objective) come after a passive verb?

Thank you in advance.

3 Answers 3


In this context "knocked off" means to cause deviation from the intended course. For example, the rocket was knocked off its intended trajectory causing it to miss the moon. So, in the example, by suffering this wound, the "we" are not following their intended life plans.

The "off" refers to the "trajectory" similar to being "off course" as in not following the intended route.

This is not to be confused with being "knocked off" (i.e. murdered) as the film noir gangsters would do if they thought you would "rat them out to the coppers".


To be knocked off a path or trajectory means to be bumped by something large enough to cause a Newtonian reaction. The phrase can be used literally or figuratively.

A moon can be knocked off its orbital trajectory if a large asteroid hits it. literal

A student can be knocked off her career path by getting ill and having to miss a semester. figurative

The object of preposition off is the path from which we have been knocked.


The striker had done poorly in the last three games and was bumped from the starting roster.

The striker had done poorly in the last three games and was taken off the starting roster.



  • To knock something off somewhere/some path: motion is disturbed, either literally (a cat knocks the cup off the shelf or asteroid knocked off path) or figuratively (the delivery has been knocked off its schedule)
  • To knock someone flying: literally hit with force (he nearly knocked me flying!), or figuratively shock (when he told me the news it knocked me flying!)
  • Knock-down (adjective): Gobsmacking/shocking, literally 'you could have knocked me down with a feather'. She was knock-down gorgeous in that dress
  • To knock something over: Push something off balance
  • To knock someone over: Often push someone off balance, but more often hit with a car. *Did you hear Doris got knocked over on that crossing by the school?


  • Object is knocked off/is a knock-off (slang): synonym for stolen or fake. This toaster has been knocked off of John Lewis, or this Rolex watch is a knock-off
  • Person has been knocked off (slang): synonym for killed. They knocked off that copper for asking questions
  • To knock somewhere over: to break in and steal goods/money. That corner shop got knocked over on Friday

Occupation, activity

  • To knock off (slang): Finish work. What time do you knock off?
  • To knock someone up/to be knocked up:
    • (slang, UK) to collect someone to go somewhere. Knock me up in the morning and we'll go to school early
  • Knock it off!: stop that!

Sexual (conjuring the image of a bedpost hitting a wall)

  • To knock someone off: (rare) Have sex with someone (implicitly dominant). He's been knocking off that girl from sales
  • To knock someone up/to be knocked up:
    • (slang, US & UK) synonym for get someone pregnant/be pregnant. He knocked up that girl from sales.
  • Knocking shop: brothel

Knock, knock! Who's there?

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