The complete expression is knock into a cocked hat or, more rarely, throw into a cocked hat, which means to defeat utterly or to win by a wide margin. For example, a football fan might say, “Brazil’s international record knocks those of other nations into a cocked hat” meaning that Brazil’s international record is far superior to those of other nations. It is one of those rare expressions, which are American in origin but the modern usage is predominantly British. The expression originated in America during the early 19th century. A cocked hat is a three-cornered hat with one of the sides turned up or ‘cocked’. This style of hat was typically worn on both sides of the Atlantic during the late 18th/early 19th centuries. The origin of the expression is from the game of ninepins. When six of the nine pins were knocked down, leaving only the outer three as points of a triangle, this set of pins was called a cocked hat because of its resemblance to the hat. If a player knocked the pins into a cocked hat, he would have knocked them out of shape. By the early 19th century, the expression was being used figuratively to knock anything or anyone out of shape and thus get the better of them.