Idioms


For about a week I’ve enjoyed a brilliant TV series on Netflix dubbed, Downton Abbey.  It’s head and shoulders above anything I’ve viewed in a very long time.  Everything seemed to be authentic and pertinent to the historic period in Great Britain shortly before the First World War.  Before the war, the countryside elite society was enjoying a fairy tale dream.  In 1914, the dream was shattered into a million pieces, and like Humpty Dumpty, all the king’s horses and all the king’s mean couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again.  The dream was gone forever—even to this very day.

Downton Abbey is an outstanding story which brilliantly exposes the snobbery and machinations of a disappearing class system of an English elite family—Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham, his wife Lady Sybil Branson and three daughters.  It was fascinating to watch the interaction of the traditional and strict hierarchy of the servants of the Crawley estate. The British period drama television series depicts in impeccable details the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the post-Edwardian era. The servants’ positions were:   the Lady’s Maid, the House Keeper, the Valet, the 2nd Footmen, the 1st Footmen, the Chauffeur,  and so forth.  Everything had to be done in such a way close to perfection—decorating the flowers on the tables, the polishing of the silverware, the undusting of the glass chandeliers, the hunting ceremonies, the serving of the wine, the dressing of the members of the family and other daily chores of the mansion.  Absolutely amazing if you ask me.

Highclere Castle located in Hampshire in the historical County of Yorkshire plays a critical role in the production of this drama.  It’s regal structure and ample gardens is so impressive that it competes with the main characters of the television series.  Highclere Castle was used for interior and exterior filming of Downtown Abbey.

Photograph of Highclere Castle at Hampshire in the historical county of Yorkshire. Credit: Wikipedia Encyclopedia

When I was viewing one of the episodes of the series, I heard the following idiom which I think has crossed the pond to the United States.  One of the main characters commented, “She is barking up the wrong tree.”  This expression was new to me, so I immediately looked it up and unveiled the linguistic mystery.

If you’re barking up the wrong tree, you’re looking for something in the wrong place or going about something in the wrong way, believing the wrong explanation for something, or to be wrong about the reason for something or the way to achieve something.  The following examples should further clarify the meaning of the idiom:

  • He had nothing to do with the robberythe cops are really barking up the wrong tree this time.
  • She thinks it’ll solve the problem, but I reckon she’s barking up the wrong tree.
  • The police think the drugs are being brought in by a Colombian cartel, but they’re barking up the wrong tree. They should be looking much closer to home.
  • She’s barking up the wrong tree if she’s interested in David. Doesn’t she know he’s gay?

What’s the origin of this popular idiom?  Metaphorical, from the image of a dog barking up a tree in which he thinks another animal has taken refuge in order to escape it.

If you think you grasped the meaning of the idiom, I have a small quiz for you.  Hope you get it right.  Here we go.

The police think the murderer is hiding in the forest, but they’re barking up the wrong tree. He is

  1. in a different tree
  2. in a different forest
  3. not in a forest

One last thing before I lay this post to rest.  If you have a Netflix subscription, and a sensitivity towards history, I kindly encourage you to view Downton Abbey.  I assure you, you will be enraptured.  Good Day.

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11 thoughts on “Idioms”

    1. Hi Desley Jane:

      I’m so glad you are enjoying this great piece of high-quality performance. I’m still in season 3. I understand the show will start another season sometime in 2014.

      So you are familiar with the idiom in Australia? Small world, isn’t it?

      Cheers,

      Omar.-

      1. I just viewed the first episode of the day. It was episode number 7 of the second season. This afternoon I will probably curl in and watch the second of the day.

        They are so well performed and the view is so charming, I can’t get enough of the show. I know it’s only a make-belief story, but the characters act as if everything is authentic and happening in real life. I love Downtown Abbey!

        Bye,

        Omar.-

    1. Good to know that you are familiar with the idiom. I was aware it’s very popular in countries where English is spoken.

      So sorry the TV drama is not available in the U.S. I have plans to view another episode or two during the day. Can’t get enough of it.

      I’ve viewed it so much, I could easily develop a British accent. 🙂

      Bye,

      Omar.-

  1. I sure will Barbara. Have you tried to look it up in YouTube? I wouldn’t surprised if it is there. Anyway, I’ll take a look and let you know if it’s there.

    I wish I could do something to help you out. It’s such an excellent content. Saw two episodes this morning. Wonderful, in search of a better word.

    Bye,

    Omar.-

      1. I searched for a while in YouTube but couldn’t find it. However, I did find hundreds of little pieces in case you want to feel the flavor of the drama. There’s even a one-hour documentary on how the TV drama was produced.

        Don’t understand why it isn’t available in Illinois. For all I know it’s all over the globe in different languages. Beats me. ???

        Bye Barbara,

        Omar.-

      2. You are too kind to trouble yourself searching! That is quite alright 🙂 I think if we subscribed to more cable channels, we would probably get to watch. Take care!

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