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English mania

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  • Outstanding works of universal interest

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • some

    rk is worse than your bifeMeaningSounding more frightening thanyou actually are.

    ANIMALSWe keep animals as pets, we need their help to do a million

    things... ride, hunt, plough... and then we use them to add alittle excitement to our language, by weaving their characteristics

    and traits into idioms which have a lot of history behindthem... So here's for some wordplay, animal style!

    UsageThough our neighbour is forever shouting atus, Larry says his bark is worse than his bite.

    OriginThis saying originates in the 17th Centurywhen dogs kept as pets simply guarded houses,and a dog that barked really fiercely alwayssounded like he would bite a bit off you.But if the dog didn't really bite, then it was saidthat his bark was worse than his bite!

    Bards of s feather flock togetherMeaningPeople who have common interests orhabits are usually together.

    UsageAll my friends have the same interestsand like to go hiking. I guess weare like birds of a feather, flocking together!OriginThis is a saying that has been used by manfor more than 2000 years. If you observecarefully, you will find that birds of one kindalways fly together. You never see a crowflying with pigeons, do you?

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Black sheep of the familyMeaningThe most different or odd one outin a group or a family.

    UsagAs David does not study hard like his otherbrothers he is considered the black sheepof his family.

    OriginThe colour black is associated withevil and a sheep that is all black israre, especially in a herd ofall-white sheep. So a black sheep ina white herd is definitely the odd oneout. In the early 1800's, shepherdsthought that black sheep scared off thewhite ones and therefore favoured themless. Slowly, this saying came to refer tothe least favoured person in a family or group.


    Bull in a china shopMeaningTo be extremely clumsy.

    UsageWhenever Roy is in the kitchen he breakssomething, so his mother says that he'slike a bull in a china shop!

    OriginBulls are clumsy creatures, large andgraceless. When they move theyalways knock things out of their way.This idiom found its way into speech wherdishes and plates made out of china(porcelain)were introduced in Europe in th1 6th Century. Imagine if a bull got into achina shop... what havoc it would cause?

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • A leopard cannot change his spotsMeaningWe cannot change the nature of things.

    UsageMr. Wilson could not yell at Fred forstealing his mangoes because he is avery gentle and forgiving person. Thisinstance portrays that Mr. Wilson waslike a leopard who cannot changehis spots.

    OriginHave you seen the spots on a leopard?The saying originates from the 'HolyBible.1 In the book of Jeremiah in theHoly Bible there is a verse which says'Can the Ethiopian change his skin orthe leopard change his spots?' whichmeans that the basic nature of thingsdoes not change, even with changedcircumstances?

    Crocodile tearsMeaningFalse or fake tears.UsagePel - I down but did not hurt himself. Hecried crocodile tears only becausehe v anted his dad to buy him something.OriginHave you ever seen a crocodile crying?I'm sure you haven't! Therefore anyonewho is crying crocodile tears is justpretending. The ancient Romans used thisexp ession freely. Renowned writers likeLord Tennyson and William Shakespeareused this expression to mean insinceresorrow.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Cry wolfMeaningFalse warning about a danger that is not real.UsageMy brother points to the sky and says he can seerockets flying which are going to crash onto theearth. But none of us ever look up because weknow he is crying wolf.OriginAesop, the famed Greek storyteller, told a storyabout a shepherd boy who would fool his friendsby saying that a wotf had come to eat their sheep.After a few times, when his friends realised thathe was playing the fool they stopped believinghim. One day the wolf really came. The shepherboy cried out for help but they thought he was justtrying to fool them again and so did not run to helphim and all the sheep were eagerly devoured by the wolf.

    Don't look a giB horse in the rnoufhMeaningDon't complain if a gift is not up to yourexpectation.

    UsageWhen Aunt Lara bought Cynthia a beautifuldress, she said she didn't like dresses withfrills. I really think she shouldn't look a gifthorse in the mouth.

    OriginIn the olden days, when horses were used formore than just riding, people would examine theiteeth to check whether it was a young stronghorse or an old one. But if you were gifted ahorse by someone and you examined its teeth bylooking at its mouth, then you would be hurtingthe feelings of the person who gifted it to you. Inother words, it is better not to be too choosy orfuss about anything that comes to you as a gift.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Eqger bgyr

    MeaningHardworking, industrious.UsageJohnny always finishes his schoolworkbefore going out to play. In this aspect,Johnny is an eager beaver.OriginFor many centuries man has admiredthe beaver for its hardworking nature.The beaver swims in rivers and buildsdams made of tiny wooden sticks acrossthem. Come rain or shine, the beaver isalways hard at his work. This sayingbecame popular in the 17th Century.

    Go to the dogsMeaningTo be ruined, to fall from a great position.UsageOur rich neighbour's fortune went to the dogswhen his son spent all his money.OriginIn the medieval times, food that was spoiltor considered unfit for man, was given tothe dogs. Soon man started ascribing thisstate to i'ellow beings, to indicate that aperson's state had become very bad, likethat of a dog.

    eElbarskhan & mmh

  • Hold
  • Make a mountain out of a molehillMeaningTo make anything sound or looklarger than it actually is.

    UsageWhen Uncle Benny catches a coldhe says he has a raging fever. He'salways making a mountain out ofa molehill.

    OriginThis saying originated in ancientGreece but not in its present form.When people began using it inEngland much later, they put in thewords beginning with 'm' just sothat it would be easy to rememberand fun to use.

    donkey businessMeaningFoolinc around, silly behaviour.UsageWhen Harry was fooling around in class, theteacher looked sternly at him and said, "Nomore monkey business young man, or youwill be out of the class!"OriginHave you seen a monkey? It always jumpsaround and acts like it is mad. Nobody knowswhere this saying comes from but tounder : and its meaning just look at a monkey.Did yo also know that this expressionalso meant doing something that isdishor ? So if you caught somebodycheating, you could say to them, "That'senoug iow! No more monkey business!"

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Raining cafe and dogsMeaningTo rain very heavily.

    UsageJohnny cannot go out to play todaybecause it is raining cats and dogs.

    OriginIn the 17th Century in England, there wereheavy rainstorms and sometimes cats anddogs would drown and would be found lyingdead on the roads after the rains. It almostlooked like it had been raining cats and dogs.

    Rate abandoning a sinking ship

    MeaningDisloyal people.

    UsageWhen the company started to losemoney, the employees resigned and leilike rats abandoning a sinking ship.

    OriginIn the 16th Century sailors had manysuperstitions. One of them was that ifyou saw rats leaving a ship when itwas docked in the harbour, it meantthat the ship would drown on itsjourney. In the sailors' minds the ratswere supposed to be loyal to the ship,as it had provided them with a homeand food. Anyone who changes sidesor becomes disloyal is thereforereferred to as a rat abandoning asinking ship.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Smell a ratMeaningTo be suspicious or get a feeling thatsomething is wrong.

    UsageOn observing the thief's actions, thepoliceman smelt a rat and realised thatthe thief was lying and up to somethingfoul.

    OriginThis saying was used as early as the 16thCentury. Man has always considered ratsas dirty, smelly creatures. Even a cat,which suspects that a hole is occupied, wilsmell to see if it houses a rat. Soon thispractice of the cat caught on to imply thatif you sniff out something bad, you could"smell a rat"!

    Straight from [email protected] mouthMeaningGet some news directly from the personconcerned.

    UsageMy uncle is planning to take us out to thebeach and has told no one about theplan, besides me. So, I have got itstraight from the horse's mouth.OriginThe best way to find a horse's age isto take a look at the horse's teeth andmouth. So, rather than asking theseller of the horse about the beast'scondition, health, age etc., all you needto do is to look straight into the horse's mouth.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • bullfight

    Catch the bul! by its hornsMeaningTo be brave in a frightening ordangerous situation.

    UsageJeremy caught the bull by its hornswhen he dived into the well tosave the drowning dog.

    OriginSometimes at the end of athe bullfighter will wrestle the bullby taking hold of its horns. A verybrave and daring act indeed!This saying therefore, originatedfrom the land of bullfights, i.e. Spain!

    Wolf in sheep's clothingMeaningSomeone who looks harmless butmay actually be very dangerous.

    UsageNever trust strangers on the street,for they may be wolves in sheep'sclothing!

    OriginIn a story by Aesop, the famousGreek storyteller, a hungry wolfkilled a sheep and wore its skin toget to the flock of sheep and killsome more. The sheep all thoughtthat the wolf was also one of them.The dangerous wolf hid underthe sheep's skin and managed tofool the flock!

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • BIRDSBirds have fascinated us from time immemorial. Winged creatures

    that take flight, smooth as silk, flapping their wings, soaring,chirping, singing... no wonder that we have taken a close look

    at their antics and captured their personalities in our language...

    A bird in hand Is worth fw in the bushMeaningBe content with what you have, because sometimesif you seek more, you might lose what you already have.

    UsageJohnny had two cookies, but was greedy for more. When hereached for the cookie jar, his dog ate the cookies he had andalso the ar slipped from his hands and broke. Now, he hadno cookies. He should have known that a bird in hand isworth two in the bush.OriginThis saying is from ancient Greece and the great storytellerAesop used it in one of his fables to explain to people howgreed can only lead to sorrow. The Romans used it too.It must have come from the bird hunting parlance - where abird you had caught was worth more than the two that werestill sitting in the bush.

    Albatross around your neckMeaningA burden or a weight that's hard to get rid of.UsageMy bag is like an albatross around my neckand have to carry it around everywhere.

    OriginFirstly, an albatross is a large bird with long wings.Have you read the poem 'The Rime of the AncientMariner" by the British poet Samuel TaylorColeridge? In this poem, a sailor shoots an albatrossand i1 brings his whole ship a lot of bad luck. Hisangry shipmates tie the albatross around his neck in thehope that all the bad luck will stay only with him.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Bats in your bellfry


    Honiaraten jj>

    MeaningA crazy idea.

    UsageAnthony wanted to straighten his dog'stail. He surely had bats in his belfry.

    OriginA belfry is a tower with bells in it thatare rung to warn the rest of the villageof danger or to call a village meeting.A couple of centuries ago, even people'shouses had a belfry. Since it is dark inthe belfry, bats conveniently made thistheir home. It drove people crazy, asbats are nocturnal creatures and byflying about in the night inadvertentlyrang the bells!

    As the crow fliesMeaningThe shortest distance, in a straight line.

    UsageThe museum, though it seems far away is onlyhundred metres from my house as the crowflies!

    OriginYou must have noticed that birds always flyfrom one point to another in a straight linebecause that's the sho'rtest distance. When wewalk or run we have to go around curves andbends due to many man-made obstaclesour path and it's quite a roundabout way!idiom therefore came into usage after observingthe unobstructed flight of birds in the sky.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • i


    Chistera feadlMeaningA very small amount of money.

    UsageMy uncle is a librarian and heloves his job, even though theypay him chicken feed.

    OriginThe cheapest thing on a farm is thefood they feed the chickens. So,if someone is paying you chickenfeed for the work you do for himor her, then they must be payingyou a really small sum of money.

    Cold turkey

    MeaningTo suddenly quit an old habit.

    UsageMy grandfather used to smokea lot but now he has turned coldturkey and kicked the habit!

    HHpNo one actually knows how this sayingcame to be! All we know is that it is anAmerican saying that means to stop abad habit. Any bad habit! And if youstop it cold in its tracks, you've turnedcold turkey!

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Dead cluckMeaningA person who is cleaned out or is about toget caught for a mistake they made.

    UsageGary's mother told him to watch the milk,but he's a careless boy and it boiled over.Now, when his mother finds out, he isgoing to be a dead duck.

    OriginThis saying is about two centuries old andoriginated in Europe. What would happenduck if it were caught? It would be cookedeaten. Similarly, anyone who made a mistakewould be a dead duck, if they got caught.


    Don't count your chickens before they hafch |MeaningDon't dream about anything blindly.

    UsageWarren spent all the money he had at the fair,thinking his Grandma would give him more,but she did not. Maybe he shouldn't havecounted his chickens before they hatched?

    OriginThis idiom originates from the famous fable byAesop, about the woman on the way to themarket carrying a basket full of eggs. She thenstarts day dreaming about how many chickensshe would have, if all the eggs hatched. Andhow many eggs they would lay and then howmuch money she would make and how richshe would be... And guess what! She trippedand dropped her basket and broke all hereggs. That's why you shouldn't dream aboutanything blindly.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Early bird catehes the wormMeaningTo achieve your goal by starting out early.

    UsageSuzy scored high in her exams becauseshe started preparing long before herclassmates- The early bird does catchthe worm!

    OriginImagine if you were a hen! You wouldhave to get up really early and run if youwanted to catch worms to eat otherwisethe other hens would eat them all up.Maybe, an observant farmer coined thisidiom !

    Kill # igoose that lays the olden eggs

    MeaningTo destroy something out of greed that is useful to youcontinuously .UsageTo make more money faster, Joe the farmer,overworked his horse to such an extent that itHe shouldn't have killed the goose that laid thegolden eggs.

    OriginThis idiom originates from Aesop's famous fableabout a goose that laid a golden egg for itsmaster everyday, till one day the farmer gotgreedy and wanted all the eggs at once. So,the farme cut open it's stomach to get all thee9gs and in the end all he had left was a deadgoose anc no eggs.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Kill two birds with one stoneMeaningTo accomplish two deeds with one action.

    UsageIvan is a smart man. When he takes hischildren to the park, he also takes hisbook along so that he can read asas keep a watch over his children. Inthis way, he kills two birds with onestone.

    OriginIn the olden days man huntedwith stone weapons. He huntedbirds in the trees by throwingrounded stones and if he was luckythat there were many birds in the tree,the stone would hit more than one bird.Today, this saying refers to trying toaccomplish more than one thing at a time.


    Oearce m a hen's teethMeaningVery rare to find.

    UsageWinter berries are as scarce asa hen's teeth in the summer!

    OriginHave you seen a hen withteeth? It's impossible becausehens do not have any teeth!They grind the food in theirstomachs. So, anything that'sas impossible as finding a henwith teeth, is expressed this way.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Sifting duckMeaningIn a position where one can be easily hurt.

    UsageThe deer ran out of the tall grass. In theopen, it was like a sitting duck for the lion.

    OriginTo hunt ducks one has to be reallyquiet and patient. Then, one takes aim ata sitting duck because it is easier to shootat it than a duck that is flying. So, anyonewho is in a position similar to the duckthat is going to be shot, is called a sittingduck.

    Wl)ill's good for the goose is good for the garwfep

    MeaningAll the people in one group should be treatedequally.

    UsageIf wo nen are not allowed to fly planes thenneither should men. What's good for thegoose is good for the gander!

    OriginA gander is a male goose and whatever thegander gets, the goose should also get since theyare both the same specie. It just means thatthere should be no partiality. In the early daysthis could have implied equality of the sexes,but now it just means any two people.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Wild goose chaseMeaning

    - A useless or hopeless search for somethingthat cannot be found.

    UsageTrying to find the ring that Cynthia lostin the garden was a real wild goosechase.

    OriginWilliam Shakespeare, the famousplaywright, used this saying in oneof his plays. Trying to catch a wildgoose by chasing it around is verydifficult. It's like trying "to find a needlein a haystack!" Now, thafs anotheridiom for you!

    Ugly cflu skiingMeaningAnything that starts out looking ugly but turnsout to be beautiful.

    UsageAshley was a shabby child and was referred toas an ugly duckling. However, he is all grownup now and looks so handsome.

    OriginHeard the story of the ugly duckling? Therewas an ugly duckling that was very sadbecause its friends would not play with it.One day, it looked into the water and foundthat it had grown into a beautiful swan. Thistells us that we shouldn't judge anything toosoon. We should wait and watch and it mightgrow into something very beautiful!

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Op

    MeaningAt once, immediately.

    UsageAll the runners were crouched, readyto run at the drop of a hat.OriginRaces have been started in manyways, sometimes the firing of a gunand at other times the waving of ahandkerchief. A long time ago, it wasHie drcoping of a hat that signaledhe start of a race. At the drop of ahat me ns to do something'mediately.

    MeaningA secret advantage.

    At the drop of a hat

    UsageOur team hasn't scored a single goal till now,and our coach is still smiling. I think the coachhas an ace up his sleeve that will help us winthe game.

    OriginHave you seen a magician perform? He pullsout everything from rabbits to cards from hissleeves! Even in card games, players hide afew cards up their sleeves to cheat and win agame. Having an ace up your sleeve is likehaving a secret weapon that you can usewhen the time comes.

    CLOTHESDown the ages, man has attired himself in as much finery as he canafford. We all love clothes, with frills and ruffles, bibs and bellsleeves, capes and cloaks... so ifs no wonder that just as clothesenrich our lives, they add a little class to our language too... in aman ner of speaking, that is!

    Ac up your sleeve

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Bee in your bonnetMeaningA crazy idea.

    UsageLewis thinks that hanging upside downcan make him taller. He has a bee in hisbonnet about growing taller this way.OriginA long time ago, in Britain, women worecolourful decorated hats called bonnets.The bonnets would be decorated withflowers and as we all know where thereare flowers, there will be buzzing bees.So, if you had a crazy idea in your head,it was like having a bee in your bonnet.

    Cloak and daggerMeaningMysterious.

    UsageNobody in town knows what goes onin Mr. Hyde's house. It is believed thathe is into some cloak and daggerbusiness.


    OriginA very long time ago spies used towear cloaks to hide weapons likedaggers and swords. Since theylooked very mysterious dressed incloaks, anything that was mysteriousand unknown was then referred to ascloak and dagger.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Dressed to killMeaningDressed to attract attention.

    UsageThe prince was dressed to kill andas he walked into the ball, everyonewas eyeing him.

    OriginEven today people give a lot ofimportance to clothes. Sometimesthey also judge others by the waythey are dressed. In times gone by, ifsomeone was really well dressed andlooked smart, people consideredthat his or her clothes were so goodthat they had killed everyone else'slooks. Like he was dressed to kill!

    Eat your hatMeaningSaying that you will do somethingimpossible if your words areproven wrong.

    UsageThe prince swore that he wouldwin the princess' hand in marriageor eat his hat.OriginIt's impossible to eat your hat!So, it's ike saying that you will dosomething impossible such as eatingyour he if the words you havespoken are proved wrong.


    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Feather in your capMeaningA great achievement.

    UsageWhen Aunt Elsie got the award forinventing her new machine, it waslike a feather in her cap.OriginIn America, native American Indiansstill wear head-dresses to respect theirold traditions. And the more the numberof feathers in an Indian warrior'scap, the more his achievements hadbeen. Having a feather in your capmeans having achieved something great.

    [email protected] someone the shirt off your bmkMeaningTo be generous and kind hearted, to beselfless.UsageMr. Brown would give the shirt off his backfor these poor kids because he knows thedifficulties one has to face when poor.

    OriginIf you were walking down a street and sawa man who was cold and shirt-less, whatwould you do? Would you give him yourshirt to wear and leave yourself cold? Sincethis is a very generous act and very fewpeople would do it, "giving the shirt offyour back" means being extremelygenerous.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Goody two shoesMeaningAnyone who thinks that they are perfect.

    UsageFrankie always acts like he is superiorto all of us. It's because he is such agoody two shoes that no one likes him.

    OriginDo you know the story of the girl withone shoe on her foot? She wanderedaround wearing one shoe, so thatanyone who noticed, pitied her andgave her another shoe. Then, as soonas she put on both shoes, she startedshowing them off to everyone she metand thought that she was just perfect.Ever since, anyone who shows off iscalled a goody two shoes.

    HandS wiifo kid glovesMeaningTo treat very carefully and gently.

    UsageJunior was a very weak child and fell sickeasily, therefore he had to be handled withkid gloves, to protect him from falling sick.

    OriginI'm sure you know that a young goat iscalled a kid. Its skin is very soft and smooth.If you were wearing gloves made from itsskin, you wouldn't damage anything thatyou touch. In a similar way, when we have tohandle something in life very carefully, it isreferred to as to handle with kid gloves.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Puf on the wooden overcoatMeaningTo die.

    UsageMy cat Tom was very sick as hewas very old- Yesterday, he finallyput on the wooden overcoat andI buried him in the garden.OriginNow surely if there were an overcoatmade out of wood no one would beable to put it on. The-wooden overcoatin this idiom refers to the wood of acoffin. It is a gentle way of saying thatone is dead. When people died, theywere buried in coffins, and hence termeaas having put on their wooden overcoats.


    Keep your shirt onMeaningTo be cool and calm, to not get agitated.UsageThe two teams were so angry with eachother and it looked like they were goingto fight. Thankfully, the referee mediatedand told them to keep their shirts on.OriginI'm sure you have noticed that whenpeople fight, they take their shirts offbecause it's very hard to move your handsto punch if you are wearing a shirt. That'swhy boxers fight bare-chested. Keepingyour shirt on is to keep calm and not getinto a fight.

    BB illli

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Make a silk purse out of a sow's earMeaningTrying to make something valuable fromsomething worthless.

    UsageHoward's shoes are old and cracked, buthe's shining them in the hope that they willlook new. Now isn't that trying to make asilk purse out of a sow's ear?OriginA female pig is called a sow, and many ofus still think that a pig is a very dirtycreature. To make a silk purse, one needssilk which is very valuable. One definitelycannot make a silk purse out of a sow'sear! So, making a silk purse from a sow'sear is what we say to anyone who tries tomake something extraordinary from aworthless thing.

    Old hatMeaningNot very new, quite old, uninteresting.

    UsageMom said we would go to the beachthis summer, because a mountaincamp was such old hat.

    OriginAn old hat is dusty, dirty and is not veryfashionable to wear. People usuallyprefer replacing old and unfashionablethings with new ones. So, we say thatanything which is not new and nowuninteresting, is old hat. CUD-TV**

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • On a shoestring budget


    Pass the hatMeaningTo beg, to ask for a contribution.

    UsageWhen the poor blacksmith's family wasleft homeless, they had no other waythan to pass the hat around and getmoney from others.OriginEntertainers on the streets still passtheir hats around to collect money fromthe crowd of spectators. In some places,people begging on the street also holdout their hats for others to drop somemoney into. Passing the hat around is away of asking for help in a desperatefinancial situation.

    MeaningSurviving a longer period with meager means.

    UsageThe woodcutter and his wife builttheir little house on a shoestringbudget.

    OriginA shoestring just means a shoelace.It is not given much importance anddoesnt cost very much. Like buyinga shoestring isn't a very expensiveaffair and anything that involves verylittle money is referred to in this way.This idiom originated in America inthe 1800's.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Stuffed shirtMeaningAnyone who arrogantly thinks that

    he is very important.

    UsageMr. Remington ignores everyone

    and has no friends. He is such a

    stuffed shirt.OriginAnyone who acts as if they are

    very important and expects others

    to pay them attention, is called a

    stuffed shirt. But, whafs the shirt

    stuffed with? Ifs stuffed with prideand self-importance!

    Tek fF your hat to someoneMeaningTo admire or appreciate someone.UsageMy father is an excellent cook, even aftera hard day at work, he comes home and

    cooks for all of us. Itake my hat off to him.

    OriginThe most important part of the attirein the 18 h and the 19th Century was

    the hat. And if you lifted your hat tosomeone, it meant that you were greetinghim or h< warmly or that you appreciatedsomethin they had done. Nowadays, it'smuch simpler; we just smile or expressour appreciation with words. 0.0


    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Throw in the towelMeaningTo give up, to admit defeat.

    UsageAfter running twenty laps, the ace runnerwas still trailing far behind- He then threwin the towel and walked off disappointed.

    OriginIn a boxing match, each boxer has asecond, a man who is standing aroundholding towels and-sponges. In the latterpart of the 19th Century, when one of theboxers had had enough of the fight andcould not go on anymore, his manageror second would throw something intothe ring, like a sponge or a towel, to indicatethat he was quitting.

    Wet blanket


    MeaningA person who spoils all the fun.

    UsageMy kid sister keeps complaining andcrying all the time and never lets anyonehave any fun. She's such a wet blanket.

    OriginIts so much fun when you go camping andsit around the campfire telling each otherstories! Well, throwing a wet blanket overthe campfire naturally puts it out! It'salmost like spoiling all the fun you werehaving around the fire. So, a wet blanket isthe name you give to someone who spoilsall the fun.

    ara'ton iElbarskhan & mmh

  • wimv

    COLOURSEver wondered what the world would be like without colour? Imagineno blue sky, no red tomatoes, no green leaves, and no yellow sun...Ah! What a dull place it would be... no wonder that colour hascrept into our language too, brightening every sentence we speak orwrite... giving our language every hue under the sun!

    MeaningOf high or noble birth.UsageMr. Spencer got engaged to a very rich and classylady. She comes from a royal family having blue blood!

    OriginA long time ago in Spain, people who were very richlike kings and queens, had a test to determine ifsomeone was of noble birth. They would look at thearms and legs and see if their blood was blue. Actuallyif you have very fair skin, your veins will show throughthe skin and veins are blue. Since these people werenot used to working in the sun and lived a life of luxuryinside their palaces, their skin would be extremely fairand their veins very blue!

    BoH from [email protected] sudden or unexpected.UsageWhen the messenger brought the newsof the king's sudden death, it hit the queenand the people of the nation like a boltfrom the blue.OriginImagine, il you were looking peacefullyat a clear je sky and without a warning0 bolt of liej htning cracked right in frontof you. Woi n't that be unexpected?

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Catch someone red-handedMeaningCatch someone at the time when they aredoing something wrong.

    UsageJeremy was caught red handed by hismother, while he was stealing some cookiesfrom the jar.

    OriginImagine being caught while youwere murdering someone. Your handswould be red with blood and thatwould prove your guilt. Catchingsomeone exactly when they are doingsomething wrong, is called catchingthem red-handed!

    Every cloud has a silver lining


    MeaningThere is something good in any situation,no matter how bad it may seem.

    UsageEven after missing the bus to school, Ritareached school on time as the bus had abreakdown on the way. Therefore, we saythat every cloud has a silver lining!

    OriginHave you ever seen a cloud with the sunbehind it? The centre of the cloud is stilldark and scary like its going to startpouring any minute, but the edges looksilvery due to the sun's rays and give afeeling of warmth and safety.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • CQX-OO**

    MeaningTo lose your job.

    UsageWhen Steve's boss found out that he

    was sleeping all day in office, he gave

    him the pink slip.

    OriginTill a century ago, if someone lost their

    job they were given a pink dismissalslip to indicate that their services were

    no longer needed and that they could

    collect the money due to them and

    leave. So getting a pink slip just means

    losing your job.

    Oreen thumbMeaningTo hav< a talent for gardening.

    UsageMy aunfs garden is filled with

    colourful flowers. Iguess she's gota green thumb.

    Get a pink slip

    OriginIt is said that if you touch yourplants lovingly and rub their leavesgently, give them a lot of affectionand care, they grow fast and well.By touching your plants often,your thumbs and fingers wouldturn gree with the pigment of the leavesand that how this idiom originated!

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Oreen with envyMeaning

    , To be jealous.

    UsageWhen Sarah saw my brand-newshoes, she was green with envy!

    OriginSince the time of drawing on the wallsof caves, man has used colour todescribe his emotions. Like redfor anger, blue for sadness,black for fear, pink for happinessand green for jealousy. Shakespearealso referred to jealousy as "thegreen sickness" in one of hisfamous plays.

    In the pinkMeaningTo be in very good health.

    UsageThough my grandfather is 98 yearsold, he's still in the pink of health.

    OriginWhen we see someone with rosypink cheeks, we tend to associatethem with good health. In reality,what makes the skin look pink is theblood flowing under it. And if theblood flow is good, then the person isreally healthy. So, pink cheeks are asure sign of good health.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Once In a blue moonMeaningVery rarely.

    UsageNowadays, Daddy takes us campingonly once in a blue moon.

    OriginI am sure you have seen a whitemoon and sometimes a yellow moonand maybe a slightly greyish moon.But tell me have you ever seen a bluemoon? Most probably not! In thesame way, anything that happensvery rarely is said to be happeningonce in a blue moon.

    Ou-'i of the olear blue skyMeaningWithout any warning.UsageMaria's missing uncle camehome one day, as if out ofthe clear blue sky!


    OriginWe have discussed a similar kindof saying before. Bolt from theblue. Anyway, they both meanthe same thing. To be shockedor surprised without a warning!

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Red carpet treatmentMeaningTo treat specially, giving a lot of respect.

    UsageMr. Hendricks must be a veryimportant person. No matterwhere he goes, he gets ared carpet treatment.

    OriginDuring the times of kings andqueens, whenever someoneimportant arrived at the palace ared carpet would be rolled out fromtheir carriage to the door of the palaceto show everyone how importantthey were. It meant welcoming someonewarmly and treating him or her with respect.

    Red herringMeaningAnything that misleads you.

    UsageThe Prince planted obvious clues onthe road leading out of the country toact as a red herring, while he fledfrom another route.


    OriginLong ago, when hunting was a sport,people trained their dogs with piecesof red herring, which is a fish with avery strong smell. Dogs were alsoused to track down criminals whohad escaped. Sometimes criminalswould use the red herring to misleadthe dogs. Ever since, this saying hasbeen used to mean anything thatmisleads.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Red-letter dayMeaningAn important or very special day.

    UsageThe 14th of May is a red-letter dayfor my aunt because she got marriedon that day.

    OriginEver since the advent of calendersholidays, festivals, etc. were alwaysmarked in red. So, a red-letter daywas a special day. Nowadays, if wetalk about any important day, we sayit's a red-letter day!

    Sb m yew fro urnMeaningTo show what you really are.UsageJohnny boasted to his friends thathe had fought lions and tigers buthis true colours were shown, whenhe got scared of a small fox.OriginIn days gone by, pirate shipswould hoist a colourful flag thatwas not their own, to cheat otherships to come closer. After theship came close, they would hoisttheir own flag and rob them. Only Vafter the pirates boarded the shipwould their true identity be revealed.

    couov)Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Tickled pinkMeaningTo be very amused.

    UsageGrandma was tickled pink whenshe saw her dog walking on itshind legs.

    OriginWhen you are laughingreally hard or when you are veryhappy, your face turns slightly pinkor red because the blood rushes toyour face and neck! Tickled pinkmeans you are really amused.

    True blue


    MeaningVery loyal, very faithful.

    UsageUncle Gerald's dog fought off thewolves and protected him. A dog isalways true blue to the end.

    OriginTrue blue is the name of a dye fromEngland, used to colour thread. Itwas in use until very recently, thoughnow synthetic dyes are used. Thisparticular dye was so good that nomatter how long you used yourclothes, the colour would never fade.Since it was so loyal to the cloth, anygreat loyalty is referred to as true blue.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • f-OODFood, glorious food! We eat three square meals a day and what

    a variety we eat! Vegetables, meat, cereal, lentils... fried, stirred,roasted, baked, steamed, grilled... and when it's time forsomething special, what a spread we have on our tables... it's

    the same spread that we have brought into our language too!Thus we use all the goodness of food to nourish our language in moreways than one!

    Apple of your eyeMeaningA thing that is very precious to you.

    UsageRobbie is such a fine child. It's no wonderthat he's the apple of his mother's eye.

    OriginIn the past, the coloured round portion ofour eyes that we call the pupil, was calledthe apple of the eye. This was due to itsshape, which is like an apple. We wouldbe blind without our pupils. Since thepupil is such an important part of theeye, anything that is very dear to us iscalled the apple of our eye.

    Bsfe off more iban you cam hewMeaningTo try to do something that is beyond yourcapability.

    UsageJoan declared that she would head all thecommittees for the school play. She alwaysbites off more than she can chew.OriginEver tried to put a large piece of food in yourmouth? First of all you would choke and even

    you didn't choke you surely wouldn't beble to chew it. It is like trying to do somethingthat is a bit beyond your capability. fOOC

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Cool as a cucumberMeaningNot nervous, very calm.

    UsageEven though Barry is scared of performingin front of a crowd, today he was ascool as a cucumber on the stage.

    OriginLaying slices of cucumbers on your eyesor eating them in the summer gives avery cool feeling. Being cool isassociated with being calm. So, if yousay that someone is cool as a cucumber,it means that they are not a bit nervous.

    Crying over spilled milkMeaningTo worry about something that youcannot change.

    UsageTed is worried about the fish bowlthat he accidently broke but there isno use now crying over spilled milk.

    OriginIf you forget to keep an eye on themilk boiling in a vessel, then it wilboil over and spill on the floor. Youcannot put it back into the vessel byworrying or crying about it. So, thissaying tells us to stop crying overmistakes that we cannot undo.

    vIobSoti I(5Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Cut the mustardMeaningTo be able to handle a job.

    UsageWalt is the shortest boy in his classand everyone thought that hecouldn't cut the mustard- However, hesurprised everyone by jumping thehighest.

    OriginIn the 19th Century, people inAmerica used the word mustardto mean the important scene in anact, the main course in a mealor the main attraction. Cutting themustard meant, being able to handlethe job given to you.

    Eat humble pieMeaningTo feel sorry or be apologetic aboutsomething.

    UsageHarry boasted about scoring thehighest marks in his class but whenhe saw the results, he had to eathumble pie.OriginIn the 14th and 15th Centuries, a pie wascalled 'umble pie." Since it sounds likehumble and humble means feelinghumiliated, it was soon changed to eatinghumble pie and it meant being sorryabout something. fOOD

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Finger in every pieMeaningTo play or have a part in everything.

    UsageGerry knows how to play theguitar, the violin, the flute andthe drums. Looks like he has afinger in every pie!

    OriginIf you were to choose fromtwenty different pies'what wouldyou do? You would put your fingerin every one of them to find outwhich one tasted better.

    4eW arefan

    FuSS of beans

    MeaningTo be strong and energetic.

    UsageEven after running uphill for tenmiles, Uncle Ned seems to be fuiof beans while the rest of us aredead tired.

    OriginWe all know that beans are full oproteins and energy. If someoneate a lot of beans, then we wouldexpect them to be stronger than therest of us. So, this idiom refers topeople, who are very strong andenergetic most of the time.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Go bananasMeaningTo become crazy.

    UsageIn the middle of the night, mybrother starts singing at the topof his voice. Looks like he hasgone bananas.

    OriginMonkeys eat a lot of bananasand we all think of monkeysas funny or crazy creatures. Sogoing bananas means actinglike a monkey or just actingcrazy.

    In a nutshellMeaningTo explain in a short simple way.

    UsageThe science project was tootough for all of us butMr. Schooner gave us thebasics in a nutshell.OriginHave you seen a nutshell? Itis very small and the spaceinside it is even smaller.Saying it in a nutshell meanssaying it in very few wordsor making a thing that seemsvery complicated, incrediblysimple.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • In a jpDekbMeaningIn trouble.

    UsageNot only did the boys losethe game, they lost all theirgear, too. They sure are in apickle!

    OriginIf you have seen how picklesare made, you will know thatthe ingredients are boiled andsoaked in oil and spices.Imagine, if you were in athen you would have alsoboiled and soaked. Now, thatis a lot of trouble isn't it?

    Not your cup of feaMeaningSomething that is not of your tasteor liking.

    UsageJoan is very bad at tennis. It's justnot her cup of tea.

    OriginPeople in England are veryparticular about the tea that theydrink. Even though there are somany varieties, they will not drinkany other than the tea that they areused to. It's a matter of taste. Soanything that you are not used tois just not your cup of tea.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Nutty as a fruitcakeMeaningCrazy, mad, eccentric.

    UsageEverybody in the country thoughtthat Aunt Hilda was nutty as afruitcake. She wore no warm clothesin the winter and put on two orthree sweaters in the summer.

    OriginFirst let me tell you what a fruitcakeis! It is a cake made with dried fruitsand a lot of nuts. Nut is a term wesometimes use to describe peoplewho are crazy. And if someone is asnutty as the nuts in a fruitcake, thenthey must be really crazy.

    Out of the frying pan and Into the lireMeaningFrom a bad situation into one thatis worse.

    UsageReggie escaped the bears but ashe came out of the bush, the beesstung him. That's what Icall outof the frying pan and into the fire.OriginIf you were in a frying pan, youwould be in a lot of trouble.Imagine, how it would be if youaccidentally fell into the fire next.That's like going from a badsituation to one that is worse.


    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Piece of cake

    Self like hoi cakes

    MeaningAn extremely easy thing to do.

    UsageMaking my breakfast is apiece of cake. I just toss inthe corn flakes and pour inthe milk.

    OriginEating a piece of cake is avery easy and enjoyablething to do. Therefore,anything that is easy to do,is compared to theenjoyable experience ofeating a cake.

    MeaningTo sell very easily.

    UsageThe T-shirts we made for the fairwere so beautiful that they soldlike hot cakes.

    OriginIn the olden days hot cakes weresold at the local fairs. The cakeswould sell very fast because theywere so tasty and also becausepeople wanted to eat them whilethey were still warm. So, anythingthat sells very fast is compared toselling like hot cakes.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Spill the beansMeaningTo give away a secret.

    UsageWhen the policeman threatened thethief, he spilled the beans about thehouse that he had robbed.

    OriginIn ancient Greece, people used to gatherin secret clubs and when they had to votethey would drop beans into a ar. A blackbean dropped would mean 'no' and awhite would mean 'yes'. Others wouldsometimes expose whom they had votedfor by overturning the ar and spilling thebeans. Ever since, this saying has beenused to refer to the act of giving away asecret.

    Take with a grain of salt


    MeaningTo accept something disbelievingly.

    tells us such tallstories; Mother says that mostof what he says must be takenwith a grain of salt.OriginIn olden times, people consideredsalt to be an antidote to poison.So, taking anything with a grain ofsalt meant being on the safe side.L>ke not believing what someonesays completely.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Usmtan*

    Worth your saltMeaningProving that you deserve something.

    UsageThough everyone thought that Jimmywas a coward, but he showed that hewas worth his salt by going into the darkroom, all by himself

    OriginIn the Roman army, the soldiers werepaid salt as a part of their salary becauseit was so rare. So, if the soldiers foughtbravely, they were proving that they wereworth the salary that was being given tothem, which was salt. Worth your saltever since refers to proving yourself.

    OriginYou must have noticed apples withbrown patches in places. Thishappens when the apple falls orgets damaged. Well, everyoneloves to eat apples. Damagingone apple is bad enough; just imaginesomeone upsetting a cart full ofapples. What a waste of apples!

    Upset the apple cartMeaningTo spoil something completely.

    UsageOur team had already guessedthe answer in the quiz but Thomasupset the apple cart by answeringout of turn.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • HEADS. HEARTThink of your head and heart... can the body functionwithout either of these two body parts? No way! These arethe most important parts of our body. Not only do they performtheir biological functions, we also associate a lot of emotionswith them. Not surprising then, that we use them so extensivelyin our language... adding a lot of head and heart to English!

    Bury your head in ihe sandMeaningTo ignore danger.

    UsageAunt Jenny thinks that it's alright for Uncle Daveto smoke, but she's just burying her head in the sand.

    OriginA long time ago, when people had just discoveredostriches and were beginning to study them, theyobserved that ostriches had their heads buried in thesand most of the time. This behaviour made peoplethink that the ostriches were hiding from theirenemies and were ignoring danger. In reality,ostriches search for berries and small grains in thesand to help them digest their food.

    lead honohoMeaningPerson in charge, leader.

    UsageIn my family my mother is the head honchowho takes care of the entire household.

    OriginDuring the Korean War, the invadingAmerican soldiers heard the Japanese word"hanchu" which means squadron leader.The Americans misspelled and mispronouncedlf and it finally became honcho. The wordhead' was added as it is an important part

    of the body and that is how the phrasehead honcho' came to be. *85*Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Head in the cloudsMeaningLost in thought, daydreaming.

    UsageInstead of working, Sara's head is alwaysin the clouds and no one knows whatshe is dreaming about.OriginIn the early 17th Century it was firstwritten, that if you were daydreamingthen you were not aware of thegoings-on on the Earth and yourhead was in the clouds. This iswhat happens to us when wedaydream, we do not know whatis going on around us because weare so taken up by our dreams.

    OriginThis saying originated in AncientRome. The Romans believed thatwhen someone falls in love, theiremotions turn upside down. So,lot of sayings like 'head overin love' and 'bowled over' cameto be because they all hint atupside down.

    Head over heels in loveMeaningTo fall helplessly in love.

    UsageWhen the Beast saw Beauty, he fellhead over heels in love with her.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • nail right on the headMeaningTo be correct or right.UsageWhen Grandpa called Uncleamiser, Father told him that he hadhit the nail right over the head,because Uncle never likedto partwith his money, not even for hisfamily.

    OriginIf you hit a nail right over it's headyou will see that it goes right intothe wood with one blow of thehammer. However, it is a verydifficult task. So, hitting the nailright over the head means beingright or correct.

    Hit the

    Off the top of your headMeaningSaying something easily and

    UsageHenry effortlessly recited the longpoem right off the top of his head!

    OriginWe all know that thoughtscome rom the brain, whichis at the top of our heads. So, ifsomeone was giving answersoff the top of their heads, itmean that they were using'heir brains well.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Over your headMeaningIn a situation leading to failure.

    UsageMaximus was in over his head intrying to fight the lion that wastwice his size, but he kept ontrying.

    OriginWhen anything is over your head,it is out of your redch and hard tograb. Similarly, any situation inwhich you are surely going to loseis out of your reach and thereforeover your head.

    Bleeding heartMeaningA soft-hearted person, who feels pitytowards everyone.UsageNina is such a bleeding heart that ifsomeone even puts on an expression oeS turn deserves anotherMeaningA good deed should always berepaid with another good deed.

    UsageAndrocles had pulled a thorn out of thelion's paw. The lion remembered and didnot attack him inthe arena. One goodturn deserves another.OriginThis saying is more than five centurieold. Every time someone helps us outof a di ficult situation, we want to dosomething in return, to show howgrateful we are. The word turn in thissaying refers to a good deed or action.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Pull a fast oneMeaningTo trick or deceive someone.

    UsageTony sold his bat to Harry for twicethe price he had paid for it. I guess,he pulled a fast one on poor Harry.

    OriginThis saying could have originatedfrom a magician's famous trick -where he pulls out various thingsfrom his hat. The faster he doesit, the better he is able to trickand impress his audience. Sotricking someone is called pullinga fast one.

    Six of one end half a dozen of anotheiMeaningOne and the same.

    UsageRoy doesn't mind eatingvegetables or meat. To him,it's six of one and half a dozenof another.

    OriginIsn't six equal to half a dozen?They are one and the same! A lytwo things that mean or add upto the same, are referred to inway.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Takes two to tangoMeaningA task that requires two people toaccomplish.

    UsageHoward wouldn't have fought withTim, if he had not started the fight.It takes two to tango.

    OriginSouth America is famous for it'svariety of dances and the Tango is aSouth American dance that requirestwo people. You cannot dance thetango alone. So, anything that needstwo people to participate is said totake two to tango!


    UsageNobody believes Jessicabecause she is so two-faced.She always says one thingand means the other.

    MeaningFalse, dishonest, deceitful.

    OriginA person who cheats and lieswill tell you one thing and tellyour friand another. It's likehe has two faces; he's showingyou one and showing yourfriend the other.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • PARTS OF THE BODYThey say the body is like a temple... It is the most remarkable machineever... move your arms, blow your nose, bat your eyelids... see how itworks! The body and its working have fascinated us since the time we

    began our inquisitive quest on Mother Earth. We have attributedmany interesting things to each part of the body and ifs no wonder that

    these have become a part of our language, too!

    Aehilles" HeelMeaningWeakness, a weak spot.

    UsageSusan is very good afMath, but History is herAchilles' heel.OriginA blind poet called Homer from Greece, wrotethe story of the Iliad. In this story, a mightywarrior called Achilles' only weak point washis heel. When he was born, his mother held himby a foot and dipped him into the river. Whereverthe river's waters touched him, he becameindestructible. However, the heel that did not touchthe water, became his weak point and he was laterkilled by an arrow that pierced his heel. Ever since,we refer to someone's weak point as his or her Achilles' heel.

    All thumbsMeaningClumsiness.

    V)wy ireton ($)

    UsageThough his father is a very good carpenter,Howard cannot even build a stool. He's all thumbs

    OriginAs we all know, the thumb is the most importanpart of the hand. It helps us to grip or catch things.Yet, if you had only thumbs on your hands, youwouldn't be able to do much of anything. Youwould be dropping and breaking everything.Therefore, anyone who is clumsy, is compared toa person having only thumbs on his hands.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Bite your tongueMeaningTo take bock something bad thatyou have said.

    UsageThe Prince told his father the King,that he was too old and stupid to rulethe kingdom. The King got furiousand told the Prince to bite his tongue.

    OriginYou cannot speak when you arebiting your tongue! So, if somebodydoes say this to you, it would meanthat you have said somethinghorrible and should take it back andnot say it thereafter.

    B't'fi #fth & silver spoon in

    MeaningTo be born into a very wealthy family.

    UsageCynthia has more than 60 dresses inher wardrobe. It seems that she was bornwith a silver spoon in her mouth!

    OriginA silver spoon is a very expensive andoeautiful object. Inthe olden days, peoplewould gift newborn babies with spoons.Anyone who was rich, would gift a silverspoon. So, that's how the saying of beingoorn with a silver spoon in your mouthcame about.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • 'oW areliHj

    Chip on your shoulderMeaningTo be proud and consider ones selfsuperior to others. To have an attitude.UsageNobody wanted to be friends with War eias he walked around the school with achip on his shoulder.OriginLong ago, young boys would play agame, where one boy would place awooden chip on his shoulder and dareany other to knock it off. If someone didknock it off, then they would fight eachother to see who was stronger. Thereforethe one who had a chip on his shouldertill the end of the fight was proven thestrongest.

    Break a legMeaningTo wish good luck.

    UsageJust as Sydney was about to go on stage,his teacher told him to break a leg.

    OriginThis saying might have two origins.It maybe from a German saying,"break your neck and leg/' or itmight have simply come fromAmerica. Sometimes, when you wishsomeone good luck it turns outto be bad. So, we deliberately wishthem bad luck like breaking a leg asit is believed that the opposite willhappen and good luck will shine onthe person.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Cold fee*MeaningFear of doing something.

    UsageWilliam climbed up the tree very

    fast but refused to come down as

    he got cold feet.

    OriginWe usually tend to associate hot

    blood with rough, angry and rudepeople, while on the other hand,

    cold bloodedness is associatedwith fear. So, for ceniur'ies we have

    used this saying to describeanyone who is scared or afraid.

    MeaningTo be kept waiting for a long


    UsageThere's Simon. He is cooling his

    heels in this long queue to buyjKii

    OriginWhen you run, your feet andheels become hot. However, whenyou are just sitting aroundyour heels are cool. So, if you arekept waiting for a long time, it'shke you ore cooling your heels.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Fighf iooih and nail, Meaning

    To fight fiercely.*' Usage

    An argument broke out betweenHarry and Larry about whowould play first and soon theywere fighting tooth and nail.

    OriginWhen animals fight, they use theirclaws and teeth. When a verybad fight breaks out betweentwo people, it almost looks liketwo animals fighting using theirteeth and nails.

    something off your chest

    MeaningTo talk about something that isbothering or worrying you.

    UsageSandra always goes to her favouriteAunt Martha, when she wants toget something off her chest.

    OriginIf you have done something wrong,you feel guilt in your heart. It's likea weight on your chest, since thechest is the place where the heartis located. By talking about it, youfeel better, as though a weight hasbeen taken off your chest.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Head and shoulders above someoneMeaningTo be much better at somethingthan others.

    UsageWhen it comes to throwing theball, Lawrence is head and shouldersabove everyone.

    OriginIn olden times, it was thought that tallpeople were better at all things andshort people couldn't compete withthem. Being head and shouldersabove someone, means being tallerand better and we still use it, eventhough we now know that size doesnot matter.

    Keep a stiff' \ipp'r !p

    MeaningTo be brave in times of trouble.

    UsageThough the Rhino came chargingout of the trees, the Warden kept 0a stiff upper lip and stood still.

  • sometimes

    Out ora a limbMeaningTaking a chance, or a daring step.

    * UsageJeremy went out on a limb, when hedecided to give the stranger who hadbeen robbed, a place to rest in his homeand all the money he had saved.

    OriginIn the olden days when hunting was apopular sport, an animal wouldclimb a tree to avoid being hunted andget stranded on the limb of the tree. Thiswas a very bad position for the animal, forit could be shot very easily up there. So,when we put ourselves in a situation,where some harm may come to us, it issimilar to the animal going out on a limb.


    Pull your Ieg

    MeaningTo tease someone.

    UsageIvan was pulling everyone's leg bytelling them that his dog could playthe drums.

    OriginIn the 18th Century, a popularpractical joke was to trip a person.A person would wait outside a doorand as soon as someone came out,they would pull their leg or trip themon a cane. That is why if you teasesomeone, it is called pulling his leg

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Puf your finger on somethingMeaningTo get the right answer.

    UsageNo quiz question is too tough for littleJimmy. He might think for a few seconds,but sooner or later, he puts his fingeron it.

    OriginImagine, if you were led into a darkroom and then asked to find out whatwas on a table. What would you do?You would feel around with your fingersand as soon as you touched something,you would know what it is. So, puttingyour finger on something is equal toknowing it.

    Put your shoulder to the wheel

    MeaningTo make a big effort, to work veryhard.

    UsageThese men put their shoulders to thewheel and saved a cow from a pit.

    OriginLong ago, when man travelledon horse-carts, many a time itwould get stuck in the mud. The onlyway to get it out was to get down, putyour shoulder to the wheel and push.It was very hard work but had tobe done, or you would get stuck onyour journey.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Shake a leg. Meaning

    Hurry up, get going.

    ' UsageUncle Woody told us toshake a leg or we wouldmiss the train.

    OriginThis American saying isbeing used ever since the19th Century. When youare not moving, your legs aremotionless. So, saying shakea leg is like saying, start moving.

    Sweep you off your fee!

    MeaningTo make a good impression.

    40I//S UMtaJI

    UsageThe young scientist swept us alloff our feet, by showing us hislatest project on space.

    OriginIn the 19th Century, peoplebelieved that a strong emotioncould make you weak enoughto want to sit down. So, theymade up many sayings like 'bowlyou over', 'she's a knockout' and'sweep you off your feet'.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Tieki your funny boneMeaningTo make you laugh.

    UsageThe sight of Henry falling on abasket of eggs, really tickled myfunny bone.

    OriginThe bone at the back of yourelbow is called the "Humerus".Sounds a little like humour,doesn't it? Well, that's exactlyhow it must have sounded towhoever made a connectionbetween these two words andinvented this saying.

    Zipper your moufhMeaningStop talking, close your mouth.

    UsageEveryone tells little Lucy tozipper her mouth, becauseshe talks too much.

    OriginAs we all know, the zipper is adevice used in baggage andclothing to close or seal. Thisis a fairly modern saying to tellsomeone to keep quiet.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • PARTS OF THE FACEThe face is the index of the mind! And of the five sense-organs, four are

    on the face... we pay a lot of attention to our faces and to eachother's, looking for clues as to what's going on in everybody's minds.

    It's not surprising then, that we have coined interesting phrases with partsof the face... so here are some that increase our language's face value!

    All earsMeaningEager to listen.

    UsageEvery time someone talksabout computers, Andy'sfavourite subject, he is allears.

    OriginIf you were made up of onlyears, then the thing youwould do best is to listen. Allears means an eagerness tolisten. This saying is morethan three centuries old.

    Beauty Is In the eye of the beholder


    MeaningDifferent people have different opinions

    UsageAunt Bella thinks that lizards arebeautiful and magnificent creatures. Iguess, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    OriginIt is known to all, that people judgebeauty in different ways and what oneconsiders beautiful, another may finddownright ugly. We usually judge by whatwe see and what we know to be beautiful,so we say, beauty is in the eye of thebeholder.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Button your lipMeaningStop talking.

    UsageWhen Gwen started to singin the bus, everyone told herto button her lip.

    OriginMany times, when someoneirritates us with their talk wethink about how nice it wouldbe, if there was some quickway of making them keep quiet.Buttons on their lips would bevery useful,wouldn't they? Justlike "zippering your mouth"!

    Cheek by jowlMeaningVery close, side by side.

    UsageJack and John are very closefriends. Even if they fight inthe morning, they are cheekby jowl by the evening.

    OriginJowl is just a medieval namefor the jaw. Since the cheekand the iaw are so close inreality, being cheek by jowlmeans being very closefriends or best friends.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Cuf off your [email protected] to spSie your feoMeaningTo hurt yourself out of anger on another.

    UsageJanet had a small fight with her bestfriend and has stopped talking to her.Why cut off your nose to spite your face?

    OriginThis phrase was used way backin the 13th Century. If you dont likeyour face would you cut off your nose?Ouch! Now, that would hurt, wouldn't it?Here face refers to other people andnose refers to you. So, in our anger withother people we sometimes try to hurtourselves and this saying shows us, howwrong it is to do so.

    Egg on your feoe

  • [email protected] an and for a iooth


    MeaningTo take revenge on someone in the sameway as it was done to you.

    UsageLillian pushed Bernard into the water, soBernard stole Lillian's clothes. Thafs whatI call an eye for an eye and a tooth fora tooth.

    OriginThis saying first appeared in the Bible. Inthe early days a strict code had been laiddown for punishment. Simply put, it said,that whatever evil a person committed hewould be punished in equal measure.Like if you blinded a person in one eye,he could take your eye out or if youbroke a man's tooth one of yours wouldbe broken, too.

    Eyes in fhe bsiok of your KeaidlMeaningThe ability to know whafs going on evenwhen you are not present.

    UsageMy grandfather has eyes in the back of hishead. He always seems to know whatmischief we're planning.

    OriginJust imagine, if you had eyes in the backof your head! You would be able to seewhat goes on behind you and no onewould be able to surprise you. Sometimeswhen people seem to know what is goingon even when they are not present, we thinkthaJ they have eyes in the back of their heads.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Keep your ear lo the groundMeaningTo be well Informed.

    ; UsageTen years back Redford kept hisear to the ground and bought asmall statue at a very low price.Today, it is a priceless masterpiece.

    OriginIn the 19th Century, the Americanswere fighting Red Indians, to takeover the land. Since people rode onhorses, as automobiles had not beeninvented, the Indians and thesoldiers would find out, if someonewas approaching them, by puttingtheir ears to the ground and listeningfor the sound of hooves. This practicehas today become a saying, that meansbeing well informed.

    Keep your nose to the grindstoneMeaningTo work hard in order to succeed.

    UsageHorace made this beautiful painting byputting his nose to the grindstone forover a year.

    OriginGrinding anything on a grindstone is onetricky job. You have to closely watch whatyou are doing and the only way you cando that, is by bringing your face close to it.Now, the nose is the part of the face thatsticks out. So, putting your nose to thegrindstone is being very attentive to thework you are doing.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • laugh out of the other side of your mouth

    Lesrudl an ear

    MeaningTo be made to feel sorry.

    UsageWhen everyone becomes aware thatGeorge cheated in the race and won,he'll be laughing out of the other sideof his mouth.

    OriginWe all know that the other side ofhappiness is sorrow. When we laugh, itindicates happiness. So, laughing out ofthe other side of the mouth, meansbeing regretful or sad about somethingwrong that you have done.

    UsageThe smell of the food wasdistracting the crowd but theleader asked them to lendan ear and brought theirattention back to his speech.

    OriginWhen you want to listen to something,you point your ear towards it. So, lendan ear means to pay attention andlisten or concentrate on something.Shakespeare used this idiom in his play"Julius Caesar". ssss

    MeaningTo listen to.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Little pitchers have big earsMeaning

    ; Children sometimes understand thethings that adults say.

    UsageLuke's mom and dad were talking secretlyabout his birthday gift but they forgotthat little pitchers have big ears.

    OriginA pitcher has handles on bothsides that almost look h'ke ears.In this saying, the little pitchers referto children and it means thatchildren may not be as innocent asthey look and can sometimesunderstand what the adults aretalking about.

    More than meets the eyeMeaningHidden things that cannot be seen orfound at first glance.

    UsageIn the beginning, Ithought that swimmingwas very easy but I soon found out thatthere was more to it than meets the eye.

    OriginMany times, we see something for the firsttime and tend to make an impressionabout it. However, the more we look, themore is revealed. So, it is better not tojudge anything at first glance. A pondmay well be deeper than it looks and amysterious fruit could well be poisonous

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • No dors of!" ye ruseMeaningSomething that doesn't matter to you.

    UsageThe thief did not care about runningaway with other people's hard earnedmoney. It was no skin off his nose.

    OriginIf you hurt your own nose youwould certainly be botheredabout it and do all you can to make itbetter. However, if it were someoneelse's nose, you wouldn't be bothered,would you? After all, it's no skin offyour nose, is it?

    Van jfh's a" fat" musicMeaningTo be deaf.

    UsageMy Uncle Ben has Van Gogh's ear -for music, everyone has to talkloudly around him all the time.OriginNow, everyone has heard of thegreat artist Vincent Van Gogh.It is known that the famous artisthad an ear that had been cutoff. This saying has been used eversince, to describe deaf people.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Pull the wool over your yesMeaningTo fool someone.

    UsageThe fox coloured himself blue topull the wool over the cow's eyes.

    OriginIn the late 18th Century, peoplewore woollen wigs which tilltoday are worn by lawyers andjudges in certain countries. Ifthe wig were pulled over youreyes, you wouldn't be able toa thing. Suppose a lawyer arguedcleverly and fooled the judge, it waslike he had pulled the wool over thejudge's eyes.

    Puf your money where your moufh is

    MeaningTo prove your words with youractions.


    UsageNed never puts his money wherehis mouth is. He always talks aboutdoing big things but never doesanything.

    OriginIn other words, it just means practicewhat you preach. Here, mouth refersto our talk and money means ouractions. Always put your moneywhere your mouth is, means alwaysput into action what you say youwill do!

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Ratee an eyebrowMeaningTo be surprised with someone'sactions or words.

    UsageFive year old Lydia always acts so

    grown up that wherever she goes, she

    raises quite a few eyebrows.

    OriginWhen we hear or see something that

    surprises or confuses us, we tend to

    frown or raise an eyebrow. And when

    we see people doing things that are

    unusual or that they are not supposed

    to be doing, we raise our eyebrows at

    them to express surprise or even


    See eye to eyeMeaningTo agree -ith each other.

    UsageNeil and Simon never see eye to eye

    about ar thing and are always fighting

    OriginThis saying actually comes fromthe Bible, imagine, that you arestanding at the side of someoneand both oi your heads wereturned the same way, so you wouldbe seeing the same thing. Inancient times, people thought that

    two people saw the same thing,t would mean that their pointof view was the same and theyagreed wi -i each other.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • I

    Sight for sore eyesMeaningA pleasant surprise.

    UsageSeeing the oasis after wanderingfor days in the desert, was asight for our sore eyes.

    OriginWorrying too much makes youfrown and stare and dark patchesform under your eyes. When youfind a solution to your problem,your sore and dark eyesup with oy. So anything that's awelcome change, is a sight forsore eyes!


    Tongue in cheek

    MeaningNot serious, a joke.

    UsageNobody takes offence at UncleSam poking fun at them. Theyknow, it's just tongue in cheek.

    OriginSometimes when we say or dothings that we intend as a joke, wewink after saying them, or makefunny faces or put our tongue inour cheek. So, tongue in cheek isanything that is meant to be a

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Turra up your nose ai someoneMeaningTo show that someone or somethingis not good enough for you.

    UsageAs soon as Sally found new friendsshe turned up her nose at her oldfriends.

    OriginIn the olden days, kings and queenswere considered to be superiorto the common people. Royalty wouldalways walk around with their faceheld high and their noses turned up,to indicate that they were superior.

    Turn the oiber oheekMeaningTo forgive someone.

    UsageWhen the thief came to Myrielto beg for forgiveness. Myrielcould see that he was really sorry,ana turned the other cheekand forgave him, instead ofpunishing him.

    OriginIn the Bible, Jesus advised hisfollowers that if someone slappedthem on one cheek they shouldnot be angry, but turn and showhim the other cheek, as a sign offorgiveness for their wrongdoing.This was a definite improvementon the earlier code of an "eye foran ey ,and a tooth for a tooth"!

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Wet behind the earsMeaningYoung and inexperienced.

    UsageNo one would give young Georgea job because he was wet behindthe ears.

    OriginWe all know that babies areyoung and inexperienced. A newborn colt or calf is all stickyand wet, covered in its birth fluid.Though it dries off very quickly, theskin behind its ears takes a verylong time to dry. In the early 20thCentury, armed forces in Americastarted using this expression todescribe newly recruited soldiers.



    Without hatting an eyelidMeaningWithout showing any emotion.

    UsageThe tiger that faced Julius wasterrifying but he stood still andfaced it bravely, without battingan eyelid.

    OriginIn olden days, the word for blinkingwas batting. When we feel scaredor something startles us, we tend toblink or express our emotions insome way. Without batting aneyelid means, not expressing yourfear or surprise.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • PLANTS & FLOWERSWe coexist happily with all the flora on the Earth. Beautiful plants andflowers excite us and soothe our feelings, we gift them to show our love andappreciation, we grow them, we eat them, we use them as medicine...and now we have them striking root in our language and growingbeautifully, as we use them everyday...

    Bark up the wrong treeMeaningTo have the wrong idea.

    UsageMy aunt wants me to become a greatmusician. However, she's barking up thewrong tree, because ifs my sister wholoves music.

    Beat around the bush

    OriginDogs would be first sent out to spot prey forhunting. So, if they found some animal scentleading up to a tree, the dog would standunder that tree and bark, not really knowingwhether the animal is still up in the tree ornot.

    MeaningTo avoid doing a thing or answering a question.

    UsageIt was clear that he was beating around the bushwhen the guide lost his way and started givingvague answers to all our questions.OriginDuring a hunting expedition, the drummersgo first, beating their drums in order to driveout the animals hiding in the bushes. However,if they beet too hard, the animals escape andthey end up beating around the bush for awhile, in vain. So, not answering a questiondirectly is called beating around the bush.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Bed of rosesMeaning

    .'A wonderful and pleasant thing.

    ;UsageFather says after the invention of thecomputer, his job as an accountant isa bed of roses

    OriginThis saying was invented by the Englishpoets, who frequently used it in their poetry.Roses are beautiful, sweet smelling andpleasant. Therefore, a bed of roses isthe softest, nicest and most comfortablething on earth. No wonder then, thatpeople caught on to this saying.

    Cars"! [email protected]@ Hi forest for the freesMeaningTo overlook a big thing because ofpaying too much attention to small things.

    UsageBy throwing the banana skin on the road,the old lady kept her bag clean but didnot seethe forest from the trees, and thepoor cyclist slipped and broke his bones.

    OriginA forest is green and dense and you caneasily get lost. However, if you were tostart concentrating on each tree, youwould be focused on its leaves andbranches and would miss the rest of theforest. In a similar way the mind cansometimes become so focused uponinsignificant things, that it fails to see thebigger picture.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Come up smelling like a roseMeaningTo get out of an embarrassingsituation, without damaging yourreputation.

    UsageThe soldier forgot to polish hisboots but he came up smellinglike a rose by spitting on them andwiping them.

    OriginWhoever wrote this, was definitelythinking of someone falling into apile of garbage, but still coming outof it smelling like a rose. It meansto get out of some trouble withoutdamaging your name or reputation.

    Gild the lilyMeaningTo spoil something that isalready good.

    UsageFlorence has too much makeupon ht face and now it looksreally bad. Why did she haveto gild the lily?

    OriginDo you know what gilding means?It me is to cover anything with athin layer of gold. If you covereda lily with a thin layer of gold, itwoul mar the beauty and scent of thebeau tul flower and make it lookartifi( i| and ugly.


    flTov/Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Go climb a IreMeaning.Go away, stop bothering me.

    .UsageKyle had already had three glassesof juice so when he asked for onemore, his mother told him to goclimb a tree.

    OriginIf someone was annoying you andyou wanted him or her to leave youalone, what would you do? You wouldtell him or her to go do somethingelse and stop bothering you. Maybeyou would tell them to go fly a kiteor climb a tree.

    Sow your wild oatsMeaningTo behave foolishly.

    UsageThough Mr. Dean looks calm andsensible, Aunt Hilda said he usedto sow his wild oats, when he wasin college.

    OriginThe wild oat is a weed. So, if youwere sowing weeds, you must bereally crazy because weeds are badfor normal plants. So, anybody whobehaves foolishly is sowing his wildoats. This saying is mostly used todescribe the foolish things we do inour youth.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Through the grapevineMeaningGossip, rumours.

    UsageThrough the grapevine, Dianabecame aware that all of her friendswere planning to play a bigpractical joke on her.

    OriginA grapevine as the name suggestsis a long creeper. In the same waythat it winds along from a bunch ofgrapes to another, news or gossipcan travel from one person toanother.

    Turn over a nw leafMeaningTo make a new beginning and correctyourself.

    UsageUncle Xavier used to smoke both cigarsand cigarettes but now he has given up thishabit and has turned over a new leaf.

    OriginI'm sure you know that a leafis the small thing that grows ontrees. Yes! But it also means a pageof a book. When do people turn overto a new page? When they want towrite or read something new! Likegetting a fresh start.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • WATERWater covers 70% of the surface of the planet we live on. It's in

    our ponds, rivers, seas, oceans. It rains down on us... we drink

    Dit,cook with it, wash with it, grow our food with it... imagine aworld without water... and imagine if we did not use it to irrigateour language... we would end up with arid phrases and expressions!

    Blood is thicker than water

    friend A

    MeaningTo favour a family member over a stranger.

    UsageWhen Bobby had to choose between hisand his brother, he chose his brother. Afterall blood is thicker than water!

    OriginWhoever invented this saying, was referring tofamily members as blood and to others aswater. A family member is considered tobe of the same blood. Whenever onechooses a family member over anyoneelse, even though the other may be betterqualified, it is said that blood is thicker than water.


    fish out of waterMeaningA person who does not fit in, out ofplace.UsageCharlie felt like a fish out of waterwhen he went to the park with hisfather and his golf buddies. He hadnothing to talk about with them as theyonly spoke about golf.

    OriginA fish lives in water. Take it out and itwill die for sure. A fish's place is in thewater. So, anything that is out of placeis referred to as a fish out of water.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • In hot waterMeaningIn serious trouble.

    UsageNancy broke her mother'sfavourite vase. Now, she'sin hot water.

    OriginThis saying has a verysimple explanation. Imagineif you were in hot waterbeing boiled. You would bein serious trouble then,wouldn't you?

    Keep your head above waterMeaningTo make just enough money tosurvive, to manage.

    UsageIt hadnt rained this year and thefarmers kept their heads abovewater, by selling off their previousyear's harvest.

    OriginTrying to keep your head abovewater is what you would try todo, if you were drowning anddid

  • Make your mouth waferMeaningTo crave or desire something that youlove to eat, to be attracted to somethingedible.UsageThe old cook makes such deliciouscakes, that just the heavenly smell ofthe freshly baked cake, is enough tomake your mouth water.OriginJust smelling or looking atsomething you would like to eat,makes your salivary glandssecrete saliva? It makes yourmouth water! Like cheese ormangoes. Yum! So anythingthat is attractive or desirous, wouldmake your mouth water, too!

    Pour oil on troubled wafersMeaningTo calm a situation, to soothe someone'sanger.

    UsageTwo men started fighting over theapples but the village chief poured oil onthe troubled waters, by showing themhow they could share the apples equally.

    OriginIn the late 18th Century, people actuallybelieved that the best way to calm astormy sea, was to pour oil on the water.This belief led to the origin of this saying -pouring oil on troubled waters. A fight oran argument is like the stormy sea, withthe troubled waters and the actions orthe words used to calm the situation, isthe oil.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Still waters run deepMeaningNever judge anything by its appearance.

    UsageThe stranger looked so kind and helpfulbut soon everyone found out, that hewas a cruel and mean man. Still watersrun deep!

    OriginIt has been said in so many culturesand in so many languages that peopledon't drown in a fast flowing river,because they get caught in the currentand are carried off to some place.However, if you happen to fall into thestill waters of a lake there's a goodchance that you'll drown because youcan never judge exactly how deep thewater is, when it is still.

    Throw odd water over somethingMeaningTo kill someone's enthusiasm, todiscourage someone.

    UsageFrancis threw cold water over theplay, when he dropped the curtainbefore it was over.

    OriginHow do you put out a fire?Well, you throw cold water onit! Here, fire is referred to as a sigrof life or enthusiasm. So, puttingout the fire, is like killingsomeone's enthusiasm.

    Elbarskhan & mmh

  • Water over the damMeaningAn event n the past that cannot bechanged.

    UsageGloria is crying because her brotherbroke her doll, but it is no use nowas it is water over the dam.

    OriginHave you seen water flowing overthe dam? Once it has gone over thedam, it is impossible to make itcome back. In the same way, anythingthat has already taken place andcannot be changed, is called waterover the dam.

    INDEX Animals 3

    Birds 1 3

    Clothes 2 1

    Colours 3 1

    Food 39

    Head & Heart 49

    Insects 55

    Numbers 59

    Parts of The Body 64

    Parts of The Face 74

    Plants & Flowers 87

    Water 92

    Elbarskhan & mmh

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