take the starch out of

Idioms & Phrases

take the starch out of

Deflate or ridicule someone, as in That practical joke at the office party really took the starch out of Nick. This expression, first recorded in 1840, alludes to the starch used to stiffen a shirt.

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