knock into a cocked hat

cocked hat

noun
1.
a man's hat, worn especially in the 18th century, having a wide, stiff brim turned up on two or three sides toward a peaked crown. Compare bicorne, tricorne.
Idioms
2.
knock into a cocked hat, Informal. to destroy completely; render unachievable.

Origin:
1665–75; cock2 + -ed2

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
cocked hat
 
n
1.  a hat with opposing brims turned up and caught together in order to give two points (bicorn) or three points (tricorn)
2.  slang knock into a cocked hat to outdo or defeat

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

knock into a cocked hat

Debunk, render useless or unbelievable. For example, His findings knocked our theory into a cocked hat. This expression alludes to a style of hat with the brim turned up on three sidesthe three-cornered (tricorne) hat worn by officers in the American Revolutiongiving it a distorted look. [Early 1800s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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