Do you understand and use idioms?
We often refer the the United States as “the melting pot” what! we are a big hot pot melting steal or wax? No! The United States is a wonderful mixture of people from all over the world. English is an idiomatic language and it is estimated that there are more than 25, 000 idioms in the English language! Non-native English speakers can be challenged to understand and incorporate idioms into their spoken and written language. Below is a list of 10 frequently used idioms along with corresponding meaning and an example situation. Pick out 5 idioms that are new to you and think about when you can use them during your conversations this week. Then try them out!
- Break a leg: Good luck! Example use: My mom dropped me off at the theater and said, “break a leg”, I smiled and said, “Thanks Mom!”
- When pigs fly: something will never happen. Example use: “Do you think he will have the project completed early?” “Only when pigs can fly!”
- A short fuse: having a quick temper change to anger. Example use: After a hard day at work, he had a short fuse with the kids.
- Cut someone some slack: Don’t judge someone too harshly. Example use: Cut Ralph some slack, he has been out all week with the flu.
- Get something off your chest: To talk about something that has been troubling you for a long time. Example use: “I need to get something off my chest and have scheduled a meeting with my supervisor.”
- Tip of the iceberg: we have just found the small part of a huge problem. Example use: “We thought clearing the downspout would take care of the water in our basement but, that took care of only the tip of the iceberg. We need to put in French drains around the perimeter of the entire basement.”
- Coming down with: Feeling like you are getting sick. Example use: “I feel like I am coming down with something and need to get some Advil.”
- Think outside the box: Think creatively, with new ideas and perspective. Example use: “Take your time and think outside the box to design our new logo.”
- Talk shop: Discussing work or projects outside of work. Example use: “My spouse didn’t want to come to lunch with us because he said that we would just talk shop.”
- Bottleneck: Something is slowing down the process. Example use: “The shortage of electricians is slowing down the construction progress.” Or another example: “The lane closure caused a 5-mile bottleneck.”