by Kate Woodford
As part of an occasional series on the subject of common idioms, we recently posted a blog which featured the idioms which we heard in spoken English during the course of a week. This week, we’re taking a different approach, picking out the idioms used in a range of national newspapers that were published on the same day. As with the previous post, we have only included the most frequent idioms – in other words, the sort of phrases that you are likely to hear or read nowadays.
One newspaper reports that a politician has criticized doctors as a group, claiming that they do not understand how their patients suffer when they wait a long time to be treated. Doctors, the politician complains, are ‘out of touch’. To be out of touch is to not have the most recent information about a subject or a situation. On a different page, the same newspaper complains that a large sum of public money (330 thousand pounds) has been spent on equipment that will never be used. ‘£330k down the drain!’ reads the headline. Money down the drain (informal) is money wasted.
Another newspaper reports that a request by many people to stop a building from being destroyed has ‘fallen on deaf ears’. A request or warning that falls on deaf ears is not listened to. On the same page, the newspaper writes that the people of one country have ‘taken to the streets’. When people take to the streets, they show that they are against something by going to a public place and shouting, often while carrying signs. Elsewhere, the newspaper promises that cures for some diseases are ‘on the horizon‘, meaning that they are likely to happen soon.
In the gossip pages of a tabloid newspaper, it is reported that an actor has said something very negative about a more famous actor. ‘Sounds like sour grapes’, says the newspaper. If you describe one person’s criticism of another person as sour grapes, you mean that they are only angry because the person they have criticized has something that they want. In the sports pages of the same paper, there is a report of a cricket match. It is claimed that the winning side are now ‘sitting pretty’. To be sitting pretty is to be in a good situation. (Often, it relates to money, though not in this case.)
Finally, also on the sports pages, a reporter confidently claims that a young football player ‘has what it takes’ to be a star player. If you have what it takes to do something, you have the qualities and talents that are needed to be successful.
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