What Does To Blow Someone Out of the Water Mean?

To Blow Someone Out of the Water Meaning

Definition: To utterly destroy someone or something, such as a plan.

When you blow someone out of the water, you have demolished him or her in an argument, a performance, a competition, etc.

If one person or product blows another out of the water, it is far superior to the other.

Origin of To Blow Someone Out of the Water

blew it out of the waterThis idiom alludes to a torpedo or other weapon striking a ship and causing a great explosion that makes pieces of the ship literally fly out of the water.

This is common to see in naval battles, and there are many early references to pirates and warships blowing people out of the water.

An early example of this is found in Upton Sinclair’s 1898 novel A Prisoner of Morro:

  • Prudence would have directed surrender, for the Maria had not a gun on board and the Spaniard might blow her out of the water.

Earlier, in 1851, Wilkie Collins writes in Rambles Beyond Railways,

  • You may meet a gale that will blow you out of the water.

Examples of To Blow Someone Out of the Water

blow out of the waterSince this phrase finds its origin in war and battles, it makes sense that it would still be used in a competitive sense today.

In the modern day, when you blow someone out of the water in a competition, you utterly destroy him and leave him humiliated.

For example,

  • Her performance blew mine out of the water.

-or-

  • When the two teams met last year, they were evenly matched. This year, the Warriors blew the Cavaliers out of the water.

If you tell someone, “Sarah’s report completely blew Steve’s out of the water.” you mean that Sarah’s was of a much higher standard.

More Examples

  • “It was [the Beach Boys’] ‘Pet Sounds’ that blew me out of the water,” McCartney told Beach Boys’ biographer David Leaf. “[I] bought my kids each a copy of it for their education in life – I figure no one is educated musically ’til they’ve heard that album.” –The San Diego Union-Tribune
  • That was one of those things that just blew me out of the water. It was all I could do to keep from breaking down on TV because that meant so much to me, to hear [professional chef Duff] say that [about my baking]. –The Sentinel Echo

Summary

The English phrase to blow someone out of the water has literal origins, but it is more commonly used in a figurative sense today. It means to utterly destroy someone in a battle or competition.