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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

to total (one's car)

Idiom: to total (one's car)

Context #1:

Jay: Hey Sarah, I heard that you got into an accident on the freeway yesterday. Are you ok?

Sarah: Yeah... I'm OK, but my car isn't!

Jay: How bad is the damage? Can it be fixed?

Sarah: No way! I completely totalled my car. I'm going to have to buy a new one.

Jay: Wow! I'm really sorry to hear that. You're lucky you didn't get hurt.

Context #2:

Tom: The traffic on the 5 freeway was really bad this morning.

Joe: I know. I saw on the news that there was a bad accident. Some guy on a motorcyle lost control and hit the center divider. He was rushed to the hospital and his bike was totalled.

Meaning: the idiom "to total" is used for cars, motorcyles, and bicycles. It can be used in both the active (context #1) and passive forms (context #2). You can use this idiom in a situation where a car or bike is totally damaged. The vehicle can no longer be used. It is so damaged that it cannot be fixed. Basically, you have to get a new one.

This idiom comes from the LSI textbook "Spekaing Savvy." This book is used by LSI teachers in our Level 5 Speaking classes. For more information, please visit

By Ty Mussack

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