Understanding the Idiom: "at one's feet" - Meaning, Origins, and Usage

Idiom language: English

The idiom “at one’s feet” is a commonly used expression in the English language. It is often used to describe a situation where someone has complete control or power over another person, group, or situation. The phrase can be applied to various contexts such as personal relationships, business dealings, and even political scenarios.

The origin of this idiom is not clear, but it has been in use for centuries. It is believed that the phrase may have originated from ancient times when people would bow down at the feet of their rulers or leaders as a sign of submission and respect. Over time, the expression evolved to take on a broader meaning beyond just physical subservience.

Today, “at one’s feet” can be used to describe situations where someone has gained admiration or loyalty from others due to their exceptional skills or qualities. For example, an athlete who wins multiple championships may have fans who are willing to do anything for them because they are seen as being at the top of their game.

Origins and Historical Context of the Idiom “at one’s feet”

The idiom “at one’s feet” has been used for centuries to describe a position of subservience or adoration towards someone. The origins of this phrase can be traced back to ancient times, where it was common for people to bow down before their rulers or religious leaders as a sign of respect and submission.

Throughout history, there have been many examples of individuals who were worshipped and revered by their followers. From kings and queens to religious figures like Jesus Christ or Buddha, these influential people were often seen as being above the rest of society and deserving of special treatment.

Over time, the phrase “at one’s feet” came to represent this idea of placing oneself in a lower position relative to someone else. It became a way to express admiration or devotion towards another person, whether that be a political leader, celebrity, or loved one.

Today, the idiom is still commonly used in English-speaking countries around the world. While its original meaning may have evolved over time, its significance as a symbol of respect and reverence remains just as strong as ever.

Usage and Variations of the Idiom “at one’s feet”

The idiom “at one’s feet” is commonly used in English language to describe a situation where someone is completely devoted or submissive to another person. The phrase can be used in various contexts, including romantic relationships, friendships, and professional settings.

There are several variations of this idiom that are commonly used in English language. For example, instead of saying “at one’s feet”, people may use phrases like “under someone’s spell”, “in someone’s thrall”, or “completely enamored”. These variations essentially convey the same meaning as the original idiom.

In romantic relationships, the phrase “at one’s feet” is often used to describe a situation where one partner is completely devoted to the other. This could manifest itself in various ways such as showering them with gifts and attention, always putting their needs before their own, or being willing to do anything for them.

Similarly, in friendships and professional settings, the phrase can be used to describe a situation where one person has complete control over another. This could mean that they have influence over their decisions or actions or that they hold power over them in some way.

Synonyms, Antonyms, and Cultural Insights for the Idiom “at one’s feet”


  • Under someone’s spell
  • At someone’s mercy
  • Completely devoted to
  • In thrall to
  • Bowing down to
  • Enamored with
  • Fawning over
  • Obediently following
  • Subservient to
  • Paying homage to


  • Independent from others’ influence
  • In control of one’s own destiny
  • Resisting authority
  • Unaffected by others’ opinions

The usage of this idiom varies across cultures. For example, in some Eastern cultures, it is considered respectful for younger people to bow down at the feet of their elders as a sign of respect and submission. However, in Western cultures, such behavior may be seen as overly subservient or even creepy.

In literature and media, this idiom is often used metaphorically rather than literally. For instance, a character might say that they are “at the feet” of their boss when they mean that they are completely under their authority at work.

Practical Exercises for the Idiom “at one’s feet”

Have you ever heard the phrase “at one’s feet” and wondered what it means? This idiom is used to describe a situation where someone is completely under the control or influence of another person. To help you better understand this expression, we have put together some practical exercises that will allow you to use it in everyday conversation.

Exercise 1: Think of a person who has a lot of power over you. It could be your boss, your teacher, or even your significant other. Write down three ways in which they hold power over you and how it makes you feel.

Example: My boss holds power over me because he controls my salary, my work schedule, and my job security. This makes me feel anxious and dependent on him.

Exercise 2: Imagine that you are talking to a friend about someone who has complete control over their partner. Use the idiom “at their feet” in your description.

Example: “I don’t know how she puts up with him. He has her completely at his feet.”

Exercise 3: Create a dialogue between two people discussing a situation where one person is under the complete control of another using the idiom “at their feet”.


Person A: “Did you hear about Sarah’s new boyfriend?”

Person B: “No, what happened?”

Person A: “He won’t let her see her friends or family without his permission.”

Person B: “Wow, sounds like she’s completely at his feet.”

By practicing these exercises, you will become more comfortable using the idiom “at one’s feet” in different contexts. Remember to pay attention to its meaning when encountering it in conversations or texts!

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using the Idiom “at one’s feet”

When using idioms in English, it is important to understand their meanings and usage. The idiom “at one’s feet” is commonly used to describe a situation where someone has complete control or influence over another person. However, there are some common mistakes that people make when using this idiom.

One mistake is using the idiom too literally. While the phrase “at one’s feet” can be taken literally to mean physically at someone’s feet, in this context it means being completely under their control or influence. Another mistake is using the idiom in inappropriate situations. For example, saying “I have my boss at my feet” may not be appropriate in a professional setting.

Another mistake is misusing the preposition “at”. This idiom requires the use of “at” followed by a possessive pronoun (e.g. “at his feet”, “at her feet”). Using other prepositions such as “on”, “under”, or “below” will change the meaning of the sentence.

It is also important to note that this idiom should not be used to describe physical actions such as kneeling or bowing down. It specifically refers to having control or influence over someone.

To avoid these common mistakes, it is important to understand the proper usage and context of idioms such as “at one’s feet”. A table summarizing these points can be found below:

Mistake Correction
Taking the idiom too literally Understanding its figurative meaning
Using the idiom in inappropriate situations Choosing appropriate contexts
Misusing the preposition “at” Using “at” followed by a possessive pronoun
Describing physical actions instead of control or influence Using the idiom in its proper context

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can use the idiom “at one’s feet” correctly and effectively in your English language communication.

Leave a Reply

;-) :| :x :twisted: :smile: :shock: :sad: :roll: :razz: :oops: :o :mrgreen: :lol: :idea: :grin: :evil: :cry: :cool: :arrow: :???: :?: :!: