Take down a peg
Posted by ESC on November 05, 1999
In Reply to: Take down a peg posted by bluebaron on November 04, 1999
: Refers to some pewter tankards that had pegs mounted on the inside so that the barmaid/bartender could tell, by looking, how much had been consumed. Take down a peg meaning a swallow or swig of ale, also as in drinking competitions.
Here's another theory: "take down a peg comes from British Navy jargon of the eighteenth century. In those days a ship's colors were raised by a system of pegs; the higher the peg, the higher the honor. Conversely, if the flag was lowered a peg, the honor conferred was correspondingly reduced. So 'to take him down a peg' meant to reduce the honor or esteem in which a person is held." From the Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins by William and Mary Morris.