Make a splash! (Everyday idioms in newspapers)

Garry Solomon/EyeEm/Getty

by Kate Woodford

Every few months on this blog, we read a selection of national newspapers published on the same day and pick out the idioms that we find in the articles and reports. We read the news, the gossip columns and the sports pages and, as with previous posts, include only the most frequent, up-to-date idioms.

Starting off with a broadsheet, an actor who has recently become famous talks about ‘making a splash’. To make a splash is to do something that makes a lot of people suddenly notice you. In the television guide of the same paper, the TV critic praises a recent series, claiming that no other programme has ‘hit such a nerve’. If something (more often a comment) hits or touches a nerve, it upsets someone, usually by raising a subject that has affected them personally. In the news pages, a journalist writes that the government’s promise to increase the number of doctors by 5000 in three years has ‘fallen short’. To fall short is to fail to reach a level or standard that was hoped for.

Another broadsheet says that a politician has ‘stamped his mark’ on the process of leaving Europe. To make or stamp your mark on something is to do something important so that people recognise or remember you. In the gossip pages of the same paper, an actor is reported as saying that a particular acting role was a tall order. A tall order is something difficult that you are requested to do.

Meanwhile, in a tabloid paper, a comedian is said to ‘spill the beans’ on a secret disagreement that is dividing a major political party. If someone spills the beans, they let secret information become known. In the sports pages, it is reported, triumphantly, that the England cricket team are ‘moving in for the kill’. In a competition or argument, to move or go in for the kill is to prepare to defeat someone who is now in a weak position. Also in the sports columns, one Brazilian footballer encourages another to hold his nerve when considering a lucrative transfer to a more famous football club. When you hold your nerve, you remain calm and determined in a stressful situation.

We’ll be looking at another set of current idioms from newspapers in a couple of months.

14 thoughts on “Make a splash! (Everyday idioms in newspapers)

  1. One expression that I encounter a lot while reading (and watching British television shows) is:
    “grass someone up”. I know the meaning of the expression is ‘to inform the police of someone’s illegal activities’, but what I would like to know is the ORIGIN of the expression. Can you help me?

  2. Anonymous

    I appreciate your idiom lesson. However, I wonder if they can be applied to the conversations with demographics from other English speaking countries, except for Britons in United Kingdom.

    1. Dear Communuty, same impression I’ve got. This is a forum I lacked since I left school. How to increase knowledge of a “foreign” – language when there’s no chance to use it – especially when I’m retired. Happy me I dropped to this page / forum ! Yrs sincerely, Gerold from Bonn, Ge

  3. EMMA

    I’m so grateful for this blog! It’so useful for english learners. And i wouldnt change anything, cause it’s just perfect. Keep it up!😉❤️ Thank you for your work!!!

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