To understand English as it is spoken in real life, you have to be familiar with idioms. They are used so much in everyday English that it is important to be aware of them. You need to learn what they mean, and how to use them to become an ‘insider’.
This blog post will show you some of the most popular English idioms currently in use. Remember, knowledge is power. Here we go.
- A Chip On Your Shoulder: No, this doesn’t mean that you’ve dropped part of your snack. To have a chip on one’s shoulder implies that the person is carrying around some grudge or bad feelings about something that happened in the past… like having walked through the wreckage of a building, and ended up with a chip of that building stuck to them for years afterward.
- Bite Off More Than You Can Chew: Like taking a HUGE bite of a sandwich that will fill your mouth up so much that you can’t move your jaw, this idiom implies that you’ve taken on more than you can handle successfully. An example would be agreeing to build ten websites in a week when normally you can only handle five.
- You Can’t Take It With You: You can’t take anything with you when you die, so don’t bother hoarding your stuff or not using it except for “special occasions”. Live now, because all your stuff is going to be around long after you’re gone.
- Everything But Your Kitchen Sink: This implies that nearly everything has been packed/taken/removed. For instance, if someone said: “The thieves stole everything but the kitchen sink!” it meant that they took everything they could carry; it’s damned hard to remove a sink and carry it around.
- Over My Dead Body: When the only way you’ll allow something to happen is if you’re no longer alive to stop it.
- Tie The Knot: To get married. This is left over from the old tradition of handfasting, wherein the hands of the bride and groom would be tied together with a length of ribbon to symbolize that their lives were fastened together permanently.
- Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover: Things aren’t always what they appear to be at first glance, so it’s a good idea to give something a chance, even if its outward appearance isn’t immediately attractive. The exception to this might be actual books that have hideous covers: those tend to be terrible all around, and in cases such as these, it’s best to contact the author or publisher and recommend a good graphic designer.
- When Pigs Fly: This means “never”. Pigs aren’t about to sprout wings and take flight anytime soon, so if someone says to their kid that they can get a forehead tattoo when pigs fly, it’s not gonna happen.
- A Leopard Can’t Change His Spots: Basically: you are who you are. Just like a leopard can’t concentrate really hard and change the pattern on its skin, people can’t change who they really are at heart.
- Bite Your Tongue: Stick your tongue between your teeth (gently), and then try to speak. You can’t say a word, can you? To bite one’s tongue means to stay quiet: literally to hold the tongue still so it can’t make a sound.
There’s a lot more where these came from. If you are a diehard about the English language and how it’s spoken by people in English-speaking countries, I fully encourage you to click this link. It’s absolutely time well invested. Remember that “learning by doing” is the best way to learn anything. Good Day.