Eloquent English #5

This month I’m going to do a ‘Idiom Month’ which basically means all the coming posts this month will be realed to idioms.
I don’t know why but I’m very attracted to idioms. I run and wirte them in my diary when I hear someone use an unknown idiom. And that’s what I’m going to focus on this month.

image

1) BITE THE BULLET
Meaning: To accept something difficult or unpleasant
Origin: In the olden days, when doctors were short on anesthesia or time during a battle, they would ask the patient to bite down on a bullet to distract from the pain. The first recorded use of the phrase was in 1891 in The Light that Failed.

2) BUTTER SOMEONE UP
Meaning: To impress someone with flattery
Origin: This was a customary religious act in ancient India. The devout would throw butter balls at the statues of their gods to seek favor and forgiveness.

3) MAD AS A HATTER
Meaning: To be completely crazy
Origin: No, you didn’t already know this one, because it didn’t originate from Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Its origins date from the 17th and 18th centuries — well before Lewis Caroll’s book was published. In 17th century France, poisoning occurred among hat makers who used mercury for the hat felt. The “Mad Hatter Disease” was marked by shyness, irritability, and tremors that would make the person appear “mad.”

4) CAT GOT YOUR TONGUE?
Meaning: Asked to a person who is at loss of words
Origin: The English Navy used to use a whip called “Cat-o’-nine-tails” for flogging. The pain was so severe that it caused the victim to stay quiet for a long time. Another possible source could be from ancient Egypt, where liars’ and blasphemers’ tongues were cut out and fed to the cats. (What a treat for the cats!)

5) CAUGHT RED-HANDED
Meaning: To be caught in the act of doing something wrong
Origin: This originates from an old English law that ordered any person to be punished for butchering an animal that wasn’t his own. The only way the person could be convicted is if he was caught with the animal’s blood still on his hands.

6) GIVE THE COLD SHOULDER
Meaning: Being unwelcoming or antisocial toward someone
Origin: In medieval England, it was customary to give a guest a cold piece of meat from the shoulder of mutton, pork, or beef chop when the host felt it was time for the guest to leave. This was a polite way to communicate, “You may leave, now.”

7) DO A DEVON LOCH
Devon loch was a race horse that collapsed just short of the winning line of the 1956 Grand National Race in the UK. If someone doea a Devon Loch, they suddenly fail when everybody expects them to succeed or simply crumble at the very last minute when they were almost winning.

8) ENOUGH TO COBBLE DOGS WITH
This incredulous phrase is used to refer to a surplus of anything. The humour in the image contained in the phrase becomes apparent when you consider that a cobbler repairs shoes. If a cobbler has enough leather to cobble an animal that has four feet, then that cobbler definitely has a surplus.

9) WHEN PIGS FLY
Whatever you are discussing will never happen

10) FOR DONKEY’S YEARS
This british expression jockingly alludes to the considerable length of years the animal works woth nothing to show for it. If you have done something for donkey’s years, then you have done it awfully long time without any change or much to show for it.

-Vrushali

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Author: Vrushali

I'm a under grad student on the path to become an accountant but that doesn't stop me from loving books, art and writing among many other things. I blog about all of them and all things that make life worth living. Check out my

17 thoughts on “Eloquent English #5”

  1. Interesting… Two small points: you give someone THE cold shoulder as opposed to A cold shoulder, and you bite THE bullet not A bullet. I love the phrase ‘Enough to cobble dogs with’ – what an image!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! I always loved “give me the whole 9 yards”, meaning give it all you have. In WWII, when a pilot was loading the guns of his fighter, the ground crew would ask how many rounds of ammo he wanted – a full load was 27 feet, or 9 yards. So if they wanted as much as they could carry, they would say “give me the whole 9 yards”.

    Liked by 1 person

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