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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 fh@ 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,

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