This week we return to animal idioms, starting with the humble – and often irritating! – fly. Though small in size, the fly appears in a surprisingly large number of common idioms. To describe someone who is very gentle and who never offends or hurts others, you might say they wouldn’t hurt a fly:
Today’s post is about words and phrases that express the idea of things improving or being improved. The most common way to talk about improvement is to say that something gets better or that we make something better:
The weather was terrible earlier, but it’s getting better now.
One thing that we aim to do on this blog is look at the many different ways we express the same thing in English. This week we’re focusing on words that have the basic meaning of ‘obvious’. As you know, near-synonyms can be different from each other in a number of ways. Many of the synonyms that we will look at here are different because of the things that they usually describe and the words that they are often combined with. Continue reading “Glaring errors and patent nonsense: ways of saying that things are obvious”→
Today we’re looking at idioms and expressions from a range of national newspapers that were published on the same day. We do this every couple of months as a way of supplying you with up-to-date, frequently used idioms.
One newspaper describes the UK Prime Minister’s plans for leaving the EU as ‘a leap of faith’. Leap of faith refers to the act of believing in something when you have no real reason to believe that it is true or will happen.
In the news pages of a different paper, a journalist remarks that the Prime Minister’s advice to members of her own party will ‘fall on deaf ears’. If a suggestion or warningfalls on deaf ears, no one listens to it.
Another tabloid is confident that the plans for Brexit will succeed and says it will be ‘full steam ahead’ for the UK after the leaving date. If you say it’s full steam ahead in relation to a particular project or piece of work, you mean that it will be started with great energy and enthusiasm.
The same paper also warns politicians that if they oppose the Prime Minister’s plan, they ‘can kiss goodbye to their jobs and their party’. If you say that someone can kiss goodbye to something desirable, you mean they should accept that they will not have it.
Thankfully, Brexit isn’t the only topic being discussed in the papers! The fashion pages of one newspaper feature an article on ‘vegan style’: that is, clothes that contain no animal products, such as leather or wool. ‘Green is the new black!’, it claims. The statement […] is the new blackis used to say that something is now very fashionable. (‘Green’ here refers to clothes made in a way that does not harm the environment.)
On the sports pages of the same paper, it is written that a series of defeats have ‘taken their toll on’ the manager of a Premier League football team. If problems take their toll or take a toll on someone, they cause them harm or suffering.
A sports journalist in another newspaper writes about a football club that has recently criticized another club for using dishonest techniques to improve their game. The journalist describes the first club as ‘getting on their high horse’. If you get on your high horse, you speak or behave as if you are better than someone else when, in reality, you are not.
Still in the sports pages, another writer says a previously successful football team is now looking like ‘a spent force’. A spent force refers to someone or something that does not now have the power or ability that they used to have.
Last month we looked at the language of planning and making arrangements. Sadly, not everything in life goes according to plan (=happens as intended) and it is wise to keep this in mind when making arrangements! This post, then, focuses on planning words and phrases that relate to problems.
A contingency is something that you know might happen in the future which would cause problems and require further arrangements:
Back in 2015, my colleague Kate Woodford wrote a post about words connected with remembering. Today’s post looks at the opposite: words and phrases for forgetting.
It is surprising that for such an important concept, there aren’t really any direct, one-word synonyms for the verb ‘forget’. A slightly formal way to talk about forgetting is to say that you have no memory/recollection of something:
As part of our series on English idioms, we’re looking this week at common expressions for describing secrets and secretive behaviour.
A lot of expressions refer to secret situations or information. If someone keeps a new piece of work or information under wraps, they keep it secret: They didn’t know whether to make the announcement immediately or keep it under wraps for a few weeks. Someone who has something up their sleeve has a secret plan: Who knows what she has up her sleeve. If a situation is cloaked or shrouded in secrecy/mystery, it is deliberately kept secret: Very little was known about the incident. For years it was shrouded in secrecy. Meanwhile, something that happens behind closed doors happens in a place where most people cannot see or hear it: These deals take place behind closed doors. Continue reading “Kept under wraps: Idioms that describe secrets”→