Ever hear those phrases that sound like one thing but mean something else?
For example, everyone has heard the phrase ‘take a raincheck‘ right? I can have some really slow moments sometimes and it literally clicked in my mind a few months ago what that really meant.
The proper word for these phrase are called idioms.
Recently I’ve noticed my boss says “the bee’s knees” a lot. Obviously she’s not talking about what I’m thinking which is a literal bee’s knees especially since I don’t think they have the same kind of joints as humans so I had to look that up. According to oxforddictionaries, it means ‘an outstanding person or thing’. Other phrases that mean the same thing are: ‘the flea’s eyebrows’ and ‘the cat’s whiskers’. (How does one know a flea’s has eyebrows? Also, are canaries some type of hybrid bird narwhal rhino?)
American slang is a marvel. I don’t know if these are supposed to make things sound slightly better than their true meaning or what. For example, have you heard the phrase ‘you and your sunny disposition’? Usually it’s used in a nice light because it means someone who is cheerful and full of zest! But I can attest to using the phrase on grumps in a sarcastic manner to try and get them to crack a smile and feel less grumps.
Here’s a list of ones I’ve heard of before and their meanings:
- Break a leg – means good luck somehow even though breaking a leg is not lucky
- Better late then never – means at least you did something vs. not at all. Not a good phrase to use though if you’re always late to work, just saying!
- Call it a day – means you’re done. Whatever you were doing, it’s over. Leaving it for another day is the best option
- Benefit of the doubt – as contradicting as this sounds, it means you’re going to take a leap (similar phrase) and trust what someone is telling you instead of suspecting a lie
- On a roll – very encouraging statement that means you’re doing a good job
- It’s not rocket science/surgery – means it’s not complicated
- Under the weather – means you’re feeling really sick that day
- Picture is worth a thousand words – I always thought it meant that pictures are more powerful than words at any given moment but I guess it means better to show than tell. Same thing? Maybe.
- Raining cats and dogs – means monsoon rain is occurring at that moment; the kind of rain you shouldn’t be driving in. I guess you can substitute cats and dogs with cooler animals like whales and elephants but either way it all sounds like pretty painful rain no?
- Devil’s advocate – means arguing for the sake of arguing but I sometimes use this phrase in an enlightening fashion to get other people to be more open minded
- In the doghouse – means you said something to your significant other you probably should not have said and you’re sleeping on the couch for a while
- The elephant in the room – means everyone is thinking it so Nel is going to say it 🙂 but it also means there’s an issue you’re probably avoiding and not ready to talk about. Also elephants are cute. If an elephant could somehow fit itself in my room, I would cuddle it.
- Plenty of fish in the sea/ocean – means there are 9+ billion people on this planet so there’s someone for everyone when it comes to dating. Also means that even though you may have missed this opportunity, there will always be other ones. (You’re awesome remember?)
Do you use idioms in your daily life? Do you use them in a differently than the common interpretation? Do you question where these silly sayings come from like I do? Let me know in the comments below! I would love to add more phrases into my blogging loaf. (Trail of breadcrumbs are pointing down in case you didn’t see them :P)