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Swept off her feet

Posted by Smokey Stover on November 30, 2007

In Reply to: Swept off her feet posted by Aaron on November 30, 2007

: pls tell me the origin of the idiom "swept off her feet".

There is a brief dicussion in the Archive--use the Search box.

There are numerous figurative or transferred uses to "to sweep," all or most of them referring to the fact that a broom sweeps things along irresistibly, or along the ground in front of it, or brushes things off the surface, or causes things inexorably to be moved along together. In the case of "swept off her feet," cf. the Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. sweep.

" c. to sweep (a person) off his feet: to affect with overwhelming enthusiasm, to infatuate. Also transf. Cf. to carry (a person) off his feet s.v. FOOT n. 27.
[Examples:] 1913 F. L. BARCLAY Broken Halo xiv. 151, I remember being swept completely off my feet when I first met Jim. 1937 W. R. INGE Rustic Moralist I. ii. 46, I do not approve of concentration camps, or of Jew-baiting, or of sabre~rattling. I only want to understand a movement which has swept a great nation off its feet. 1977 Daily Mirror 16 Mar. 13/5 Mr. Lipscombe's daughter Gillian was swept off her feet by De Roth."

Similar uses of "sweep" are "swept along" and "swept up." Examples (made up by me) could be: "He was swept along by the charismatic optimism of the candidate." Or: "He was swept up by the Gestapo in their relentless search for spies." This example contrasts with another use, "He was swept up (or along) in the movement, which he believed, wrongly, would make his country free again." Although these two examples have different prepositions, this is not as definitive as context.

In all the uses of "sweep" or "swept" it is probably appropriate to think of the action of a broom. In metaphorical uses one can think of a metaphorical broom.