Are you looking for a way to describe an intense feeling of nervousness, fear, or embarrassment? You could say you feel “weak in the knees.”
Keep reading for more information on the history and meaning of this handy idiom.
The popular phrase “weak in the knees” means feeling very nervous or scared or having any strong emotional response to something.
Many people say they are “weak in the knees” when talking about someone they are attracted to, though this isn’t the only meaning. Others might say they went weak in the knees because they were scared, excited about a surprise, or even sad.
Would you like to add the idiom “weak in the knees” to your vocabulary? Seeing the idiom in action can help you get a better feel for the meaning. These example sentences have got you covered:
“I thought I could watch a scary movie on Halloween, but that horror movie was much scarier than I thought it would be. I went weak in the knees during the jump scare scenes.”
“Jimmy is the cutest person I know. I feel weak in the knees when I say hi to Jimmy at the grocery shop.”
“When my mother told me my uncle passed away, I was shocked by the awful news. I felt weak in the knees as my uncle and I used to be so close; I didn’t know what to say.”
“I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw my bills for this month. I felt weak in the knees just thinking about paying.”
The expression “weak in the knees” originated from the Bible.
“Weak in the knees” was a Hebrew expression that referred to Old Testament figures who are terrified or not steady in their faith. Saying someone had “weak knees” meant they were cowardly and unfaithful back then.
The Wycliffe Bible, which was published in 1382 and is the earliest English translation, included the phrases “knees shall tremble” (Ezekiel 7:17) and “feeble knees” (Isaiah 35:3).
The earliest use of the phrase “weak in the knees” was recorded in the year 1534, in the NewTestamentary, which William Tyndale translated.
The proverb (Hebrews 12:12) read, “Stretch forth therfore agayne the hondes which were let doune & the weake knees.”
In today’s English, this translates to “Stretch forth therefore again the hands which were let down and the weak knees.” In the 1600s, this phrase meant being fearful or disloyal.
The phrase “weak in the knees” has a fascinating history, and it meant different things in various time periods. Today, most people use this phrase when referring to feeling embarrassed about their crush or describing fear.
Phrases Similar to Weak in The Knees
Does “weak in the knees” not feel quite right? Idioms similar to weak in the knees include:
Butterflies in my stomach — feeling very nervous in anticipation of something or being in love.
Yellow-bellied — an insult to someone cowardly or easily frightened.
Feeling queasy — this phrase means feeling troubled or uneasy.
Weak-kneed — this version of the idiom “weak in the knees” is often used as an insult to mean cowardly instead of describing a strong feeling.
Phrases Opposite to Weak in The Knees
There aren’t any idioms that mean precisely the opposite of weak in the knees. However, you could say that someone is “clear-headed,” “steady,” “aware,” or “stoic” instead.
What Is the Correct Saying?
The correct saying is “feeling weak in the knees” or “[I] went weak in the knees.” It means you feel nervous or frightened.
Ways People May Say Weak in The Knees Incorrectly
“Weak in the knees” is a metaphor. It doesn’t literally mean that your knees feel weak.
You don’t want to call yourself or someone else “weak-kneed” to describe problems with the kneecaps, as people use this version of the idiom as an insult.
Acceptable Ways to Phrase Weak in The Knees
You can say that you “feel weak in the knees” or “went weak in the knees” when you are scared, embarrassed, or you encountered your crush.