an artist's impression of red blood cells in a blood vessel

Blood, sweat and tears: phrases with ‘blood’

an artist's impression of red blood cells in a blood vessel
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by Liz Walter

We might not like the thought of blood, but there are lots of useful phrases that contain this word! Continue reading “Blood, sweat and tears: phrases with ‘blood’”

The canopy of a banyan tree seen from below, with the sun shining through the leaves.

Root and branch (Idioms with nature words, Part 3)

The canopy of a banyan tree seen from below, with the sun shining through the leaves.
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by Kate Woodford

Today, in the third and final post of our nature idioms series, we look at idioms that feature the words tree, bush and hedge and also words for parts of these things, such as root and branch. Continue reading “Root and branch (Idioms with nature words, Part 3)”

Green shoots and fertile ground (Idioms with nature words, part 2)

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by Kate Woodford

Part 1 of this ‘nature idioms’ post looked at flower idioms. Today, we’re lowering our gaze to the ground and looking at idioms that feature mud and grass. We’ll start, appropriately enough, with phrases that include the word ‘seed’, (= the tiny thing from which a plant grows). Continue reading “Green shoots and fertile ground (Idioms with nature words, part 2)”

I wouldn’t trust them an inch: talking about people you don’t trust

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by Liz Walter

In my last post, I presented some words and phrases to describe people who are loyal and who you can trust. Today’s post deals with the opposite. Continue reading “I wouldn’t trust them an inch: talking about people you don’t trust”

Shrinking violets and tall poppies (Idioms with nature words, part 1)

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by Kate Woodford

Like many people, I spent a good deal of 2020 out in nature, walking my dog along the local stream and through the woods. Surrounded by trees, hedges, and flowers, I started to think about all the nature idioms and phrases that we use. This week, we’re looking specifically at flower-related idioms. (By the way, if anyone wants to identify the flowers in these idioms, there are pretty photos at most of our dictionary entries for them.) Continue reading “Shrinking violets and tall poppies (Idioms with nature words, part 1)”

As good as your word: Talking about trust and loyalty

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by Liz Walter

This post looks at words and phrases connected with the question of trust. I’ll start with ways of talking about people you are certain will keep their promises. You can depend on, rely on or count on them to do what they say they will do:

I know I can depend on Patrick to keep the business running while I’m away.

If you stand for election, you can count on me to support you! Continue reading “As good as your word: Talking about trust and loyalty”

Delusions of grandeur: talking about people with a high opinion of themselves

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by Liz Walter

My last post talked about words for describing levels of confidence.  This post looks specifically at some of the colourful derogatory phrases to describe people who are over-confident or have a very high opinion of themselves. Continue reading “Delusions of grandeur: talking about people with a high opinion of themselves”

Worth its weight in gold: phrases with ‘gold’

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by Liz Walter

Of all the elements in the periodic table, gold is the one that humans seem to love the most for its colour, its rarity and its physical properties (it is ideal for making coins). It’s not surprising, therefore that gold is a common metaphor for people or things of high quality. Today we will look at some phrases associated with this idea. Continue reading “Worth its weight in gold: phrases with ‘gold’”

Flying in the face of common sense (Idioms with the word ‘face’, part 2)

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by Kate Woodford

This is the second of our two-parter on useful idioms and phrases that include the word ‘face’. Part one looked mainly at phrases for describing expressions on the face. This post doesn’t have a particular theme but instead looks at a variety of ‘face’ phrases used in contemporary English. Continue reading “Flying in the face of common sense (Idioms with the word ‘face’, part 2)”

The icing/frosting on the cake: differences between British and American idioms

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by Liz Walter

Differences between US and UK English are particularly pronounced in informal and idiomatic language. There are lots of idioms that are used in one variety but not the other, for example go pear-shaped (to fail or go wrong) is used in British but not American English and strike pay dirt (discover something valuable) is American but not British. Continue reading “The icing/frosting on the cake: differences between British and American idioms”