on (one's/its) knees

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on (one's/its) knees

1. In a position or manner of supplication or humble entreaty. Jeb might have scorned me for the manual labor job I offered him here 10 years ago, but he's been on his knees begging for it now that the economy has gone south.
2. In a weakened or desperate state; in a condition or state of decline or near ruin. The megacorporation, once so dominant, has been on its knees ever since news of its involvement in the banking scandal became public knowledge.
See also: knee, on
References in classic literature ?
Kneel down," she said, "and lay your forehead on my knees.
And thou, highest perfection of excellence that can be desired, utmost limit of grace in human shape, sole relief of this afflicted heart that adores thee, though the malign enchanter that persecutes me has brought clouds and cataracts on my eyes, and to them, and them only, transformed thy unparagoned beauty and changed thy features into those of a poor peasant girl, if so be he has not at the same time changed mine into those of some monster to render them loathsome in thy sight, refuse not to look upon me with tenderness and love; seeing in this submission that I make on my knees to thy transformed beauty the humility with which my soul adores thee.
Because I am he who saved your father's life when he wished to destroy himself, as you do to-day -- because I am the man who sent the purse to your young sister, and the Pharaon to old Morrel -- because I am the Edmond Dantes who nursed you, a child, on my knees.
Of this little boy, who, in the midst of his play while I undressed him, had suddenly buried his head on my knees.
I took them off with all the coolness of an old hand, and then I placed him on my knee and removed his blouse.
Let me see them again, and beg them, on my knees, to show the same mercy and goodness to you; and let us both leave this dreadful place, and far apart lead better lives, and forget how we have lived, except in prayers, and never see each other more.