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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

In a pickle

Definition: in trouble, in a difficult situation, or mixed up

Example 1:
Sue: I might lose my home.
Marvin: Why? What happened?
Sue: Well, last year I got laid off and I haven’t been able to find another job. I haven’t been able to paythe mortgage on the house so the bank is threatening to take over.
Marvin: Wow! I’m so sorry. You really are in a pickle.

Example 2:
Larry: I’m in a pickle.
Mary: Why? What happened?
Larry: The police caught me for drunk driving and took my driver’s license away. Now I can’t drive and I cannot get to work without a car.
Mary: Oh dear! You are in a pickle!

Meaning: ‘To be in a pickle’ refers to a person being in a difficult situation. This situation is challenging to get out of, like a pickle in a pickle jar. The term can also mean that a person is drunk and mixed up.

Origin: A pickle is a preserved vegetable. Usually the vegetable is put in a jar with vinegar, salt, herbs and spices. In Dutch this preservative mixture is called “pekel.” So, the person is like a pickle in a jar, being mixed up with other ingredients.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Until the cows come home or till the cows come home

For a very long time, indefinite amount of time; forever. 

If you say that you can do something until the cows come home, you mean that you can do it for a very long time.

#1 - My girlfriend was talking on the phone with her sister until the cows came home last night!

#2 - They could argue till the cows come home and still not reach an agreement.

#3 - You can keep talking till the cows come home, but you'll never persuade me to go with you! 

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

a (bit of a) stretch

Example 1 - 2 friends talking on a Monday morning
Tony: What's up, Milly? How was your weekend?
Milly: It was crazy! You'll never believe it.
Tony: Wow, sounds so interesting! Tell me about it...
Milly: Well, we had a birthday party for my roommate. We had over 80 people in our apartment! The party went on until 4 in the morning!
Tony: Hmm, well I've been to your apartment before and I know how small it is. 80 people you say? That's a stretch! I doubt you had barely 30 people. Any more than that, the neighbors would complain and the police would have been called! You're totally exaggerating!

Example 2 - 2 friends talking about plans for the summer
Frank: I don't think I'll be able to take any vacations for at least 5 years!
Monica: Why not? Surely you can take a weekend to San Diego or somewhere else nearby. What's the issue?
Frank: Well, for sure I will lose most of my paycheck to taxes. I don't have enough left at the end of the month for anything fun.
Monica: Oh, Frank! That's a bit of a stretch! I know taxes are a pain, but to say most of our money goes to taxes is an exaggeration! Let me show you some cool apps on the iPhone for money management....

a (bit of a) stretch =  an exaggeration
The speaker is "stretching the truth"

In Example 1, Milly claims to have had over 80 people in her apartment for a late-night party. Tony knows that Milly is likely exaggerating because her apartment is small. He tells her, "That's a stretch!" Which is the same as saying "That's an exaggeration!"

In Example 2, Frank is claiming to lose most of his money to taxes each month. Monica says he's slightly exaggerating. The word "most" generally refers to quantities of 50% or higher.

This expression is most often used with that's (that is contracted). Use a bit of a  when it's not a huge exaggeration as in Example 2.

More examples:
"I haven't slept at all in a whole week!"   "That's a stretch! I saw you taking a nap in class this morning!"

"I haven't slept at all today." "That's a bit of a stretch! I saw you taking a nap in class this morning!" 

Tuesday, October 29, 2019


Ghosting, To Ghost on (Someone) - Cutting off all contact or communication with a friend or a person one is dating, not giving any warning that the relationship is over,  and ignoring any attempt by the ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend to communicate or make contact via the phone, social media or in public.

Situation #1 - Two friends are talking after class
Selena: Hey, Amanda! How is everything?
Amanda: Not very good.
Selena: Oh, no! What happened? You've been so happy recently because of that new guy you are dating. His name is Gene, right?
Amanda: Yes. Well, I thought that Gene wanted to be my boyfriend, but recently he has been ghosting me. He hasn't called in four days!
Selena: Well, maybe he is just busy.
Amanda: No, he also blocked me on Facebook and is not returning any of my Instagram messages even though I know he has opened them.
Selena: That sucks. If he is going to be like that, then he isn't worth it!
Amanda: I guess you're right, but I really liked him, and I thought he liked me too.

Situation #2 - Two roommates are talking about having a small get-together at home
Trey: So let's get together next Sunday with everyone and watch the football game. We can get some snacks and beer.
Gerry: That sounds good. Who do you want to invite?
Trey: Well, Greg, Marty, and Lenny to start with. Then, maybe Ron since he is a big Rams fan.
Gerry: I see most of those guys at work, but I haven't heard from Ron in a really long time. I think he is ghosting on us!
Trey: Well, it's his loss if he doesn't want to stay in touch. We'll party without him.

Meaning: In the first dialogue, Amanda is sad because the guy she has been dating suddenly stopped all communication via phone and social media. So she finally realized that he was ghosting her. In the second dialogue, Trey and Gerry have a group of friends they want to invite over for a football game except one friend, Ron, hasn't been in contact for a long time. They suspect that Ron is ghosting on them. Ghosting is used with and without the "on."

To find out more about ghosting, click on this link:
7 Signs someone is about to ghost on you

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Beat around the bush

Meaning: avoid the main topic, not speak directly about the issue
Grammar form: verb; to beat around the bush
Verb Forms: beat-beat-beating-beaten

Example 1:  She beat around the bush for a while before telling her friends everything about the new guy she was dating.

Example 2:
Son:  Mom, I borrowed your car last night to go meet some friends.  While I was driving, I got a text and started to read it because I thought it might be urgent.  Unfortunately, I was focused on my phone and didn't really pay attention to the road.  Because I was multitasking while driving, something bad happened.  I am sorry, I know it's my fault.
Mon:  Oh, stop beating around the bush and tell me exactly what happened.
Son:  I crashed your car into a tree!

The expression to beat around the bush is used when you are feeling nervous or scared to tell someone something right away or directly because you are worried or unsure about how they will react.

In Example 1, the girl is nervous about telling her friends about the new guy in her life.  She clearly cares about what they think and she knows that her friends would be very curious about this new piece of information.  She is just teasing her friends by not telling them instantly in order to build excitement and suspense.

On the other hand, in Example 2, the son is definitely not in as positive situation as the girl in example 1.  Here, the boy has made a big mistake and is hesitating telling his mom about what he did.  He knows that once his mom finds out about that happened, she won't be happy.  That's why he is stalling giving direct information as much as possible, not out of excitement, but out of fear.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Break a Leg

Situation #1
Martha:  I’ve been practicing all week.  I have a concert tonight.
Sam: I hope you break a leg.
Martha: Thanks!

Situation #2
Sarah: I’m excited to go to the theater tonight and see your performance.  I love Romeo and Juliet.
Terry:  It’s a very dramatic story.  I have been in this play before, but it is the first time for me to play Mercutio. 
Sarah: I can’t wait to see how you do it.
Terry:  Thanks.  He’s a difficult character.
Sarah: Break a leg.
Terry:  Thanks so much. I appreciate that.

Meaning:  “Break a leg” doesn’t seem like a good thing to say to anyone but it actually means “Good Luck” or “Do a great job!”  This idiom is commonly used in the world of stage performance and it is said to a person before a performance.  It seems that the speaker is wishing the performer to have an accident on stage, but in fact, it is the opposite.  The speaker is telling the performer to have an outstanding performance.

This is a very old idiom whose exact origins are not known. In the tradition of theater as well as in horse racing, there was a superstition that if you wish out loud for something good to happen, then the opposite will happen instead.  So it’s best to wish someone a bad thing, like break a leg, so that the person will have the opposite – a good thing.  People say: “I hope you break a leg” so that good luck will come to the person.

One theory is that when a performance is so great, then the performer has to take many bows when the show ends.  In a bow like a curtsy, one must put a leg behind the other and bend it while bowing. So it looks similar to a broken leg next to the straight one.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Dressed To Kill

If someone, especially a woman, is dressed to kill, they are wearing very smart or attractive clothes which are intended to attract attention and impress people.

To dress in extravagantly fancy or stylish clothes so as to thoroughly impress others.

#1 – Dressed Up for a Date
Jasmin: It must be a very special event that Stephen is taking you tonight. You’re dressed to kill!
Therese: Yes, he’s taking me to a fine dining on a cruise ship. It’s an elegant place so I did my best to put on something nice.
Jasmin:  You look gorgeous. I hope you have a great time!
Therese: Thank you. I’m sure I will.

#2 – Going to Attend a Celebrity Party
Abby: Hey Cate, are you going to that fancy party next Saturday night?
Cate: The one in Beverly Hills for the movie producers? I wouldn’t miss it.
Abby: Yes, that’s the one. I’m wondering about what to wear.
Cate: Well, you better dress to kill cuz’ it’s going to be one extravagant party!