A Few Native English Idioms

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Offline Antara11

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A Few Native English Idioms
« on: November 25, 2015, 04:36:54 PM »
1. (To) Hit the books

Literally, hit the books means to physically hit, punch or slap your reading books. However, this is a common English idiom among students, especially American college students who have a lot of studying to do. It simply means “to study,” and is a way of telling your friends that you’re going to study. It could be for a final exam, a mid-term test or even an English exam.

 “Sorry but I can’t watch the game with you tonight, I have to hit the books. I have a huge exam next week!”
Antara Basak
Senior Lecturer
Dept. of English

Offline Antara11

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Re: A Few Native English Idioms
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2015, 04:37:16 PM »
2. (To) Hit the sack

Just like the first idiom, the literal meaning of this would be physically hitting or beating a sack (a large bag usually used for carrying things in bulk such as flour, rice or even soil). But actually to hit the sack means to go to bed, and you’d use this to tell your friends or family that you’re really tired, so you’re going to sleep. Instead of saying hit the sack you can also say hit the hay.

“It’s time for me to hit the sack, I’m so tired.”
Antara Basak
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Dept. of English

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Re: A Few Native English Idioms
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2015, 04:37:49 PM »
3. (To) Twist someone’s arm

To twist someone’s arm literally means to take a person’s arm and turn it around, which could be really painful if you take it exactly word for word. If your arm has been twisted it means that someone has done a great job of convincing you to do something you might not have wanted to to do.

And if you manage to twist someone else’s arm it means that you’re great at convincing them, and they’ve finally agreed to do something after you’ve been begging them.

Tom: Jake you should really come to the party tonight!

Jake: You know I can’t, I have to hit the books (study).

Tom: C’mon, you have to come! It’s going to be so much fun and there are going to be lots of girls there. Please come?

Jake: Pretty girls? Oh all right, you’ve twisted my arm, I’ll come!
Antara Basak
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Re: A Few Native English Idioms
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2015, 04:38:09 PM »
4. (To be) Up in the air

When we literally think about something up in the air, we have the idea that something’s floating or flying in the sky, perhaps an airplane or a balloon. But really if someone tells you that things are up in the air it means that these things are uncertain or unsure; definite plans have not been made yet.

“Jen have you set a date for the wedding yet?”

“Not exactly, things are still up in the air and we’re not sure if our families can make it on the day we wanted. Hopefully we’ll know soon and we’ll let you know as soon as possible.”
Antara Basak
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Re: A Few Native English Idioms
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2015, 04:38:31 PM »
5. (To) Stab someone in the back

If we take this idiom literally we could find ourselves in a whole lot of trouble with the police, as it would mean taking a knife or another sharp object and putting into a person’s back.

However, as an idiom to stab someone in the back means to hurt someone who was close to us and trusted us by betraying them secretly and breaking their trust. We call the person who does this a back stabber.

“Did you hear that Sarah stabbed Kate in the back last week?”

“No! I thought they were best friends, what did she do?”

“She told their boss that Kate wasn’t interested in a promotion at work and Sarah got it instead.”

“Wow, that’s the ultimate betrayal! No wonder they’re not friends anymore.”
Antara Basak
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Re: A Few Native English Idioms
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2015, 04:38:49 PM »
6. (To) Lose your touch

Literally this means to no longer have the ability to touch or feel with your fingers or hands. But to lose your touch actually means that you lose your ability or talent you once had when dealing with things, people or situations.

We use this when you’re usually good at a certain skill or talent, but then things start to go wrong.

“I don’t understand why none of the girls here want to speak to me.”

“It looks like you’ve lost your touch with the ladies.”

“Oh no, they used to love me, what happened?”
Antara Basak
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Re: A Few Native English Idioms
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2015, 04:39:09 PM »
7. (To) Sit tight

To sit tight is a strange English idiom and it literally means that you sit down squeezing your body in a tight way, which if you did it would be very uncomfortable, not to mention you’ll look really strange.

But if a person tells you to sit tight they want you to wait patiently and take no action until you hear otherwise.

“Mrs. Carter, do you have any idea when the exam results are going to come out?”

“Who knows Johnny, sometimes they come out quickly but it could take some time. You’re just going to have to sit tight and wait.”
Antara Basak
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Re: A Few Native English Idioms
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2015, 04:39:28 PM »
8. (To) Pitch in

This English idiom actually makes no sense if you try to take it literally. However, figuratively speaking it means to contribute (give) to something or someone or to join in.

So if your dad tells the family that he wants everyone to pitch in this weekend and help clear the backyard, it means he wants everyone to join in on the efforts to clear the yard and get things done quicker.

“What are you going to buy Sally for her birthday?”

“I don’t know I don’t have much money.”

“Maybe we can all pitch in and buy her something great.”

The above conversation suggests that every one of Sally’s friends should contribute a little bit of money so they can afford to buy her a bigger and better present together.
Antara Basak
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Re: A Few Native English Idioms
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2015, 04:39:46 PM »
9. (To) Go cold turkey

Sound weird? Well, you’re right, it does, how can anyone literally go cold turkey? A person can’t transform into the bird we all love to eat for celebrations such as Christmas and Thanksgiving.

The origins of this English idiom are strange and to go cold turkey means to suddenly quit or stop addictive or dangerous behavior such as smoking or drinking alcohol.

This English idiom is said to have originated in the late 20th century and suggests that a person who suddenly quits something addictive—such as drugs or alcohol—suffers from side effects that look like a cold, uncooked turkey. This includes pale (very white) skin and goosebumps (little small bumps on the skin when we’re cold or sick).

“Shall I get your mom a glass of wine?”

“No, she’s stopped drinking?”

“Really, why?”

“I don’t know. A few months ago, she just announced one day she’s quitting drinking.”

“She just quit cold turkey?”

“Yes, just like that!”
Antara Basak
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Re: A Few Native English Idioms
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2015, 04:40:04 PM »
10. (To) Face the music

In literal terms facing the music means to turn your body to the direction of the music and stand in front of it. But if your friend or your parents tell you to face the music, there’s a much harsher meaning.

It means to “face reality” or to deal with the reality of the situation and accept all the consequences good or bad (but mostly bad). Perhaps you’ve been avoiding something because you feel unsure or scared of the outcome. Maybe you lied to your teacher and she discovered the truth and now you have to face the music and accept the punishment.

“I can’t understand why I failed math.”

“You know you didn’t study hard, so you’re going to have to face the music and take the class again next semester if you really want to graduate when you do.”
Antara Basak
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Re: A Few Native English Idioms
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2015, 04:40:20 PM »
11. (To be) On the ball

If you look at this English idiom literally, it means to be either standing or sitting on a ball—but who would do that?

If you’re on the ball it means that you’re very quick to understand certain things, very prepared for something or react quickly (and correctly) to a situation.

For example, if you’re planning your wedding that is still one year away from now and you’ve almost finished with all the planning already, you’re definitely on the ball because not many people are that prepared!

“Wow, you’ve already finished your assignments? There not due until next week, you’re really on the ball. I wish I could be more organized.”
Antara Basak
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Re: A Few Native English Idioms
« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2015, 04:40:34 PM »
11. (To be) On the ball

If you look at this English idiom literally, it means to be either standing or sitting on a ball—but who would do that?

If you’re on the ball it means that you’re very quick to understand certain things, very prepared for something or react quickly (and correctly) to a situation.

For example, if you’re planning your wedding that is still one year away from now and you’ve almost finished with all the planning already, you’re definitely on the ball because not many people are that prepared!

“Wow, you’ve already finished your assignments? There not due until next week, you’re really on the ball. I wish I could be more organized.”
Antara Basak
Senior Lecturer
Dept. of English

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Re: A Few Native English Idioms
« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2015, 04:40:52 PM »
13. Rule of thumb

Can thumbs rule or can you literally rule a thumb? If you think about it logically, it means absolutely nothing and makes no sense. However, if you hear someone say as a rule of thumb, they mean that it’s a general unwritten rule for whatever they’re talking about.

These rules of thumb are not based on science or research, and are instead just a general principle. For example, there’s no written scientific rule that you must add oil to boiling water when cooking pasta, but it’s a rule of thumb and is practiced by most people so the pasta won’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

“As a rule of thumb you should always pay for your date’s dinner.”

“Why? There’s no rule stating that!”

“Yes, but it’s what all gentlemen do.”
Antara Basak
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Re: A Few Native English Idioms
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2015, 04:41:23 PM »
14. (To be) Under the weather

Can you be under the weather literally? Probably yes, if you think about standing under the clouds, rain and sun, but it makes no sense. If you’re feeling under the weather, you’re not your usual self and could be feeling a little sick. The sick feeling is nothing serious; perhaps it’s just extreme tiredness from studying too much, or having a bad headache because you’re starting to get the flu.

“What’s wrong with Katy, mom?”

“She’s feeling a little under the weather so be quiet and let her rest.”
Antara Basak
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Re: A Few Native English Idioms
« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2015, 04:41:40 PM »
15. (To) Blow off steam:

In reality a person cannot blow off steam (the hot rising air from boiling water)—only electrical equipment can, such as the electric jug (appliance for boiling water for coffee). So what does it mean when a person blows off steam?

If you’re feeling angry, stressed or are experiencing some strong feelings and you want to get rid of them so you feel better again, you will blow off steam by doing something such as exercise to get rid of the stress.

“Why is Nick so angry and where did he go?”

“He had a fight with his brother, so he went for a run to blow off his steam.”
Antara Basak
Senior Lecturer
Dept. of English