kiss someone's ring

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The President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, kissing the ring of Pope Francis during a state visit to the Vatican on 17 March 2016

An allusion to a traditional manner of expressing obeisance to a bishop (especially the pope) or king.



kiss someone's ring (third-person singular simple present kisses someone's ring, present participle kissing someone's ring, simple past and past participle kissed someone's ring)

  1. (idiomatic) To give respect or reverence to someone; to express servitude to someone.
    Synonyms: kiss someone's hem, touch the hem of someone's garment
    • 2011, Mark Mills, chapter 9, in House of the Hanged, London: HarperCollins, →ISBN; House of the Hunted: A Novel, 1st U.S. edition, New York, N.Y.: Random House, 2011, →ISBN, page 106:
      The friendship had faltered during their first year at Oxford, when Barnaby had turned jester-in-chief to a pride of strutting young peacocks with titles and country estates. He had made them laugh and kissed their rings and they in return had sneered at him behind his back.
    • 2012 November, Nikki Carter, chapter 15, in Time to Shine: A Fab Life Novel, New York, N.Y.: Dafina KTeen Books, Kensington Publishing Corp., →ISBN, page 147:
      "[…] We're taking over and running this industry. Every other label is gonna have to bow down." / "What about Mystique?" Dreya asks. "Is she gonna have to bow down too?" / "It's only a matter of time," Evan says. "If I don't do anything else in this industry, I'm gonna make sure that diva kisses your ring."
    • 2014, Bob Rockwell, “Blood on the Carpet”, in A Slightly Better World, [Morrisville, N.C.?]: Desert Wind Books, →ISBN, page 27:
      Betsy eats up the attention like a bobbysoxer at an Elvis concert. It won't be long before Luca will have them kissing his ring.


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