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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Cut the mustard

Context #1

Who are you going to choose for the front desk staff position?
Wick: I’m not sure yet. Both candidates are smart, but neither can cut the mustard.
John: You have to pick one of them though, right?
Wick: Not if they can’t meet our standards.

Context #2

I’m not worried about next week’s competition at all.
Adrian: Why? You should never underestimate the abilities of an opponent.
Paulie: I know someone who’s been watching that team, and they say that their skills will never cut the mustard versus our team.
Adrian: Well if they can’t meet the expectations of the competition, they’re going to have a difficult time with our team.

Meaning: The expression "Cut the mustard" means to measure up to the standard or meet the expectation of something. (Usually this involves a set of skills, qualifications, and experiences).

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Cross that bridge when you/we get there

Context #1

Don: I have to think about so many things. It’s driving me crazy.
Kelly: Well, do you have to make your decision about all of those things now?
Don: I have to decide if I want to buy these two different suits, but I have to finish this work first.
Kelly: Then don’t worry about it for now. You can cross that bridge when you get there.

Context #2

Chad: I’m worried that my girlfriend’s parents won’t like me when I meet them next month.
May: Why are you so worried about it?
Chad: I just can’t help but think that they won’t approve of our relationship.
May: You don’t even know what’s going to happen. You can cross that bridge when you get there. There’s no reason to worry about something that hasn’t happened yet.

Meaning: The expression "Cross that bridge when you/we get there" means to not think about a specific topic or situation until you have to finally face it, because there’s no point in worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

To fall short (of)

Context #1:

Gabriel: Do you have any idea what this meeting is about today?
Katie: Apparently, we fell short of our monthly goal again.
Gabriel: Oh no! I thought sales were up this month.
Katie: Maybe in your department, but overall, our sales are down.

Meaning: The expression "to fall short (of)" means to fail to reach a target. It's often used with the preposition "of" when the target or goal is used as an object, as in the example above, where the company Gabriel and Katie work for failed to reach their monthly sales goal. It can also be used without "of," as in the next example:

Context #2

Monica: Did you watch the game?
Wayne: What a disaster!
Monica: I know! I had such high expectations for our team, and they were winning in the first half!
Wayne: Yeah, they really fell short in the second half.

Meaning: Wayne uses the expression "to fall short (of)" to say that the team failed to reach their target of winning. Notice that because he doesn't mention what the goal was, he does not use "of."

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Under the radar

Context #1

Deborah: What are you listening to?
Craig: It's this new band my little brother told me about.
Deborah: It's really good. Why haven't I ever heard this before?
Craig: They're kind of under the radar right now, but I think this song is going to be make them big.
Deborah: Can you send me a copy?
Craig: Sure!

Meaning: The expression "under the radar" is used to describe something that most people aren't aware of. It's often used as an adjective to describe music that is "underground" and not currently popular, such as in the example above. The expression comes from airplanes that fly so low, they can't be detected by radar. "Under the radar" can also be used as an adverb to describe something that was done in a secretive and potentially illegal manner, as in the next example:

Context #2

Sylvia: Did you hear about Kari?
Michael: I heard that she was arrested. Is that true?
Sylvia: Yeah! It's crazy.
Michael: What did she do? She always seemed so quiet and sweet.
Sylvia: I don't know all the details, but apparently she has been stealing from the company under the radar for years. I guess she just made small transactions to herself that no one noticed until the company was audited this year.

Meaning: Sylvia uses the expression "under the radar" to explain that Kari was stealing from the company in a secretive way. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

To burn the midnight oil

Context #1: Ted and Wilma just finished an exam...

Ted: How was the exam?
Wilma: I think I did well, but I’m so tired, I don’t know for sure.
Ted: Really? What happened?
Wilma: I was getting ready for bed when I discovered that I didn’t read three chapters of the text book.
Ted: Oh no!
Wilma: Yes, chapters 16, 17, and 18! So I had to burn the midnight oil to catch up. I stayed up until 5am studying those chapters.
Ted: Uh, Wilma, I guess you were too tired to realize…those last chapters weren’t on the exam.

Context #2: Rhonda and William live in a dormitory.

Rhonda: I’m going to bed now. Goodnight, William.
William: Goodnight, Rhonda. Hey, where is your roommate?
Rhonda: Wendy? Oh, she’s at the library burning the midnight oil.
William: Wow! You mean she hasn’t finished her essay yet? That’s unfortunate.
Rhonda: Not for me! I’ll sleep well; I won’t have to hear her snore all night!

Meaning: To work all night. We use this idiom to emphasize the idea that a person is working hard after his or her normal work hours. In the old days (before electricity), people burned oil in lamps in order to light a room at night. If someone is “burning the midnight oil,” it means they need light in order to finish their work at night.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

To be glad to see the back of

Context #1: Kim and Derek are at work sitting in the break room. They begin talking about their co-worker, Fred.

Kim: You know - Fred was late again today.
Derek: I’m not surprised. I had to finish his last project because he wasn’t here to do it.
Kim: Does the boss know?
Derek: The boss knows now. He is pretty angry. I heard the boss tell Fred the next time he’s late or his work isn’t finished, he’ll be fired.
Kim: That’s fine by me. Fred’s lazy. Actually, I’ll be glad to see the back of him!

Context #2 : Joe is writing a post card about his experience at summer camp…

Dear Mom and Dad,

I can’t believe I’m still here. Every hour seems to take a week! I really miss you and I miss home. It’s cold here. The other kids are really mean. I can’t sleep in this uncomfortable bed. Also, the activities are boring. I’ll be glad to see the back of this place!

Love, Joe.

Meaning: We use this idiom when a person or thing is part of our life and is not liked. A similar idiom is “to be glad to get rid of.” When you “see the back of” a person, it means that person is leaving. In other words, if you are “glad” to “see the back of” someone, you are happy that person is leaving.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

To go overboard

Idiom: To go overboard – to be very enthusiastic; to do or say too much because a person is too enthusiastic about something; to do something in an extreme or excessive way.

Context #1 – Two friends are talking at a party

Tina: Did you see Maria? I mean, I know this is supposed to be a dressy party, but my goodness!
Sherri: I know! She really went overboard with all her makeup. No one wears that much makeup, not even models for a photoshoot!
Tina: True. She has so much makeup on, she doesn’t even look like herself!

Context #2 – Two roommates are talking

Susan:  Wow! Look at all this food! I thought we were inviting just Jim from next door, not the whole apartment complex!!!
Paul: Yes, I know. Do you think I went a little overboard?
Susan: A little? Paul, we have enough food to feed everyone in the neighborhood for the next week!
Paul: Sorry. Maybe we can take the extra food to a homeless shelter.
Susan: That sounds like a plan.
Paul:  Next time, I won’t go overboard!

Meaning: To go overboard means to do or say too much because of being overly enthusiastic about something. In the first dialogue, Maria put too much makeup on for the party. Even though it is a dress party, she should not have put on so much makeup. In the second context, Paul cooked too much food for the one guest they were having over to dinner.