The idioms and phrases in today’s post come from a range of national newspapers that were published on the same day. We write a post like this every couple of months in order to provide you with a regular supply of contemporary, frequently used English idioms.
One tabloid reports on a politician who has been accused of breaking parliamentary rules. Her career, it writes, is ‘on a knife edge’, meaning that it is very uncertain and could end in failure. A similar idiom is used elsewhere in the same paper where it describes the life of a very ill person as ‘hanging by a thread’. Something that hangs by a thread is likely to end badly, for example in death or failure.
The same newspaper writes that a TV presenter is ‘in hot water’ over a humorous comment that she made about a politician. To be in hot water is to be in a difficult situation in which you are likely to be punished.
In the gossip pages of that newspaper, a columnist describes the scandalous behaviour of a celebrity but then refuses to give their name, writing ‘My lips are sealed.’ This is something that you say when you are promising to keep a secret.
In the entertainment pages of the tabloid, we read that a very popular police thriller is keeping its viewers ‘on tenterhooks’. To be on tenterhooks is to be anxious or excited because you don’t know what is going to happen.
In another tabloid, a young singer who has just won an award that an older, established singer won a few years ago is said to be ‘following in her footsteps’. To follow in someone’s footsteps is to do the same thing as someone else before you.
The sports pages of this paper provide two nice expressions. A young footballer who scored the winning goal in a semi-final is said to have ‘risen to the occasion’. If you rise to the occasion, you show that you can perform well when it is important that you do so. On the same page, a national side are said to have ‘raised their game’ for an important match. To raise/up your game is to make an effort to improve the quality of what you are doing. (This phrase can apply to anything – not just games.)
On page two of the third paper, a political party leader promises that their candidate will ‘hit the ground running’ during an election campaign. To hit the ground running is to put all your energy into something from the start so that you immediately succeed.
Finally, an expert in public health warns the UK government that they must take action to ‘bridge the gap’ between the poor and the wealthy in society. To bridge the gap between two things is to reduce the difference between them.
I hope you enjoyed this round-up of idioms in newspapers. I’ll be back with another of these in a couple of months.