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Two black guys go to Ohio State University in 1933. White dudes lock horns with them. One black guy asks another what are they supposed to do, if not kicking their ass. There is the answer: "You just smile and play nice. Run every last one of these peckerwoods off their feet." I'm not sure what does the lat line mean.

  • Peckerwoods or woodpeckers? – Mithrandir Jul 28 '16 at 15:14
  • It's official subs, so it's peckerwoods. Anyway I don't understand exactly "run off their feet" part. – Dmitriy Esarev Jul 28 '16 at 15:16
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to run someone off their feet means, usually, to make someone work very hard. Peckerwoods is southern slang for redneck or poor white person. Two examples I have made up.

My boss was in a really bad mood today and ran us off our feet.

I've had so much to do today and my kids have really run me off my feet.

  • Yes, I found this defenition, but it makes a little sense to me in this context. Thanks anyway – Dmitriy Esarev Jul 28 '16 at 15:57
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    I imagine this story involves Jesse Owens, who matriculated at OSU in 1933, or his teammates on the OSU track team. If that's the case, "run" would have a literal sense, too: the speaker advises his friend to exhaust their white competitors by outperforming them in speed and endurance. – StoneyB Jul 28 '16 at 16:33
  • Yes, that's the story. It confused me because Jesse and his fried were actually runners. Thanks a lot – Dmitriy Esarev Jul 28 '16 at 16:39
  • As a speaker of US English, I have never heard it used to mean "make someone work very hard"; that appears to be mainly a British expression. Given that the speakers were all American, I think a more literal interpretation is in order. – stangdon Jul 28 '16 at 17:27
  • I was run off my feet [at work. by the kids.by the dog] etc. etc. is not a BrE expression. If the people were runners, then, it's funny and just means to run a whole lot (to use an AmE expression). – Lambie Jul 28 '16 at 19:08

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