2

So, I know about the phrase knock someone's socks off but recently I heard someone say "knocked your silly socks off".

What value does the word "silly" add? Are they calling the listener silly? Does it convey the humour in the phrase? Or is it just a filler that emphasizes the meaning?

2
  • Who said this? Are they a native speaker? If so, where from? Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 10:08
  • 2
    I would guess it was a euphemism for a swear word, i.e. very gentle intensification. But can't be sure without context. Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 10:37

1 Answer 1

3

To 'knock someone's socks off' means to impress them greatly. It's clearly figurative, as you couldn't literally 'knock' a sock off.

A lot of humour is subjective and contextual, so it's difficult to say exactly what the effect of adding this word is. On one hand, adding a descriptive adjective to describe the word 'sock' could complicate the idiom as the hearer is left wondering if you are referring to their literal socks. Do you think that their literal socks are 'silly'? Has the idiom now become literal?

On the other hand, the word 'silly' can be used as a very mild alternative to an expletive. While certain expletives / swear words are also technically adjectives/adverbs, they only serve to add emphasis to what is being said. Recognised as such, your sentence makes sense and the idiom is preserved. It might say something about the speaker, that they would choose such a childish word to curse with, and some humour could lie in that.

3
  • English men used to say 'I'll knock your silly head off' or I'll punch your silly face' and I think the implication was that the other person was culpably stupid or foolish. 'Silly socks' has the advantage over just 'socks' of being [affectionately] alliterative. Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 21:52
  • @MichaelHarvey I'm an English man and I've never said that.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 21:53
  • 'I cannot stand Ronaldo and I could punch his silly face purely on remembering that wink he gave in the 2006 World Cup match' - ' Older women ache to fondle his strong chin, and other guys want to punch his silly face', '“If Wingate wasn't here, I'd punch your silly face like Coker's.” Cedric Hilton shrugged his shoulders and walked away.' Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 6:43

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .