bring to one's knees

bring (someone or something) to (someone's or something's) knees

1. To render a person or group submissive by weakening or defeating them. The general believes that such an attack will bring the opposing troops to their knees.
2. To disrupt or halt a process or thing. Unfortunately, a broken printer has brought the mailing project to its knees. Many fear that all of these new regulations will bring the stock market to its knees.
See also: bring, knee

bring to one's knees

Make one submit; reduce to a position of subservience. For example, Solitary confinement usually brings prisoners to their knees. This particular phrase dates only from the late 1800s, although there were earlier versions alluding to being on one's knees as a gesture of submission.
See also: bring, knee