There is:

take the wind out of one's sails


to eat humble pie

Can I use the above idioms in this way in a routine sentence like this:

I took the wind out of her sails, because she acted very rude towards me.
You are not going to believe me, she ate humble pie, immediately.


Sure, there's nothing really wrong with it except sounding a little too 'poetic' for casual speech.


I took the wind out of her sails, because she acted very rude towards me.

That doesn't sound all that natural to me, but it's close. When we take the wind out of someone's sails, we're usually talking about how the person is surprised or caught off-guard, usually resulting in a somewhat embarrassing situation. That person's spirits suddenly go from buoyed to despondent. I can't recall hearing the expression used to describe revenge for a perceived wrongdoing with no other detail. If someone is rude to you, it's hard to simply "take the wind out of that person's sails" without using some kind of one-upmanship.

Something like this might be a better example:

She was acting very haughty in the meeting, but I took the wind out of her sails when I mentioned how she was wrong about her schedule and budget.

You are not going to believe me, she ate humble pie, immediately.

This one doesn't sound quite right, either. People aren't force-fed humble pie, they eat it on their own accord after they realize they've been wrong about something.

So, I might say something like this:

After she realized her projections were way off, I could tell she was ready to eat some humble pie.

To master idioms like this one, peruse Google books. Do a search for something like

(be sure to use the quotation marks). There, you'll find quite a few example usages that might help you get a better idea of how a phrase is used.

Of course, you'll have to make sure the context is right. For example, sometimes people talk about taking the wind out of her sails – but they're talking about a ship, not a person:

But presently a great ship named 'San Felipe' loomed over her path and took the wind out of her sails, so that she could no longer answer to her helm.

  • "You are not going to believe me, but she immediately ate humble pie" sounds a little better to me. – BobRodes Dec 12 '14 at 5:05
  • @Bob - The "immediately" sounds odd to me; I don't usually think of immediacy when using the "humble pie" idiom. I just looked up phrases like "immediately ate humble pie" and "eat humble pie immediately" on Google; I didn't get zero results, but I got very, very few. – J.R. Dec 12 '14 at 7:30
  • Yes, I agree. I didn't want to deviate too far from the original. The reason that you go so few results is (of course) that humans are typically scared to admit being wrong, so instances of doing so immediately are rare. :) I considered using "ate humble pie right away", "straight away ate humble pie", and "did an immediate about face and ate humble pie"; all of these sound better to me. – BobRodes Dec 15 '14 at 15:08
  • It's interesting how many metaphors in general use have their origins in old sailing ship terms, isn't it? Here and here are some others. – BobRodes Dec 15 '14 at 15:19

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