Let’s call it a day. (Everyday idioms in newspapers)

by Kate Woodford

Darrin Klimek/DigitalVision/Getty
Darrin Klimek/DigitalVision/Getty

As regular readers of this blog will know, now and then we like to focus on frequent idioms – that is, the sort of idioms that you are likely to hear or read in current English. One way in which we do this is by looking at the idioms that are used in a range of national newspapers published on the same day. Here, then, are the common idioms that we found in papers on Monday, December 12th.

One broadsheet newspaper has an article on all the ways that companies nowadays try to make their employees happy at work. According to the author, companies go to great lengths (= use a lot of effort) to make the office environment fun. Elsewhere, the same paper reports that a new movie has swept the board at an international award ceremony. When someone or something sweeps the board, they win all the awards that are available.

Meanwhile, one tabloid newspaper reports that a well-known actor is on track to win the final of a TV dance competition. To be on track to achieve something is to be making enough progress to do it. In the celebrity gossip pages of the same paper, a comedian reports that he thought he was going to lose his job and be on the street (= without a home). In the same pages, we read that the successful new host of a quiz show has given the show a new lease of life. A new lease of life is an opportunity to succeed again after an unsuccessful period. (In US English, this phrase is a new lease on life).

Another tabloid notes that a famous football manager and his wife have decided to call it a day after fifteen years of marriage. ‘Call it a day’ is a very common, informal phrase meaning ‘to stop doing something’. It often applies to work, though in this context, clearly refers to the end of a marriage. Elsewhere, the paper reports that a politician has come under fire from within her party because of her negative remarks about her party’s leader. If someone comes under fire, they are criticized. On the same page, the opposing political party is criticized for being out of step with ordinary working people. To be out of step with a group of people is to have ideas and opinions that are different from them.

The sports pages of the same paper report that the English cricket team is on the brink of defeat in their latest series. If someone or something is on the brink of a situation, that situation is likely to happen soon. Finally, on a happier note, two very talented football players who are new to a club are apparently going to put the club back on the map (= make it famous again).

38 thoughts on “Let’s call it a day. (Everyday idioms in newspapers)

  1. Pingback: Let’s call it a day. (Everyday idioms in newspapers) – Cambridge Dictionary About words blog (Jan 11, 2017) | Editorial Words

      1. Karen

        But I don’t know whether I should use idioms that often because my English teacher said that it’ll be too clumsy to do so. Well,maybe i just use the popular ones. Should I?

    1. Sympathy Liyanage

      I am in a new lease of a life to come in to on track so as to be able to sweep the board at the Cambridge’s CPE exam. I think this short of articles are of utmost value for that.

  2. Pingback: Let’s call it a day. (Everyday idioms in newspapers) - Editorials Today

  3. Hadeel Hammam

    Now I see the reason of choosing an image of a flame on the Webpages to mean a criticism or a hot complaint. Flamer, flame war, and flame bait are also from the same root rely on this idiom “come on the fire”. But the best of your collections, Kate is “call it a day.” Thanks

  4. Karen

    Bonkers. But I don’t know whether I should use idioms that often because my English teacher said that it’ll be too clumsy to do so. Well,maybe i just use the popular ones.

    1. Kate Woodford

      Hi Karen. That’s an interesting point. I think learners are sometimes reluctant to use idioms because they’re not confident that they are using current, well-known phrases. At About words, we try to include idioms that genuinely are used in contemporary English. All the best to you!

      1. Fantastic blog! I must admit that the online Cambridge Dictionary has become my ‘cup of tea’☕ 🤗 Kudos to the blogger of this idiomatically fantastic blog! 👍👍👍

    1. Kate Woodford

      Hello! Thank you! We’re really glad you’re enjoying our posts. We’ll certainly post more articles about idioms in the future as people seem to like them. Best wishes to you!

  5. Javed Iqbal

    Thank you very much my respected teacher for such a fantastic article. In a way, you have answered to many of my questions.

  6. Yakini Gomda

    Thanks to this website and its managers .I have learnt so much from your idioms, especially, their explanations. Very concise and simple explanations to my comprehension.

  7. Ratnayake

    Although I have been using the Cambridge on line dictionary for a long time, I started reading the blog very recently.I should say that I enjoy your blog a great lot and from every new blog you publish, I get something to improve my usage of the language- Good Luck to the whole team of Cambri:
    Nandana Ratnayake – Sri Lanka

  8. ADAY

    My first name is ADAY. This came about when my father first saw me, a baby boy in a cot. He looked at me disapprovingly and said : ” I think we should call it a day”

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