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Thursday, November 14, 2013

To Sweeten the Pot

Idiom: to sweeten the pot; used as a verb

First Example:
Joseph: Jamal turned down the job offer. 
Olivia: What?! I thought he wanted that position.
Joseph: He does, but he said it's not worth it.  He said it's too much work for not enough money.  But the CEO won't let me increase the salary any more.
Olivia: Is there any other way you can sweeten the pot?
Joseph: What do you mean?
Olivia: Well, you can't give him more money, but maybe you can offer a few more vacation days, or maybe offer him Mark's office since he's leaving.  
Joseph: That's a pretty good idea.  I'm gonna go see what I can come up with.

Meaning: The expression "sweeten the pot" means to make something more desirable.  The expression originally comes from gambling; when players make new bets, they will sometimes say they are "sweetening the pot" as they throw chips in.  This means the pot (i.e. the money that will be won by the person with the best hand) is larger and therefore more desirable to all players.  But while the expression is still used in gambling, the expression is now used in everyday conversation, as seen above. In this example, Joseph offered Jamal a new position, but Jamal turned it down because he didn't think it was worth it. Olivia suggests that Joseph "sweeten the pot" by adding additional incentives like vacation days and a new office to the offer that Jamal might want but that won't cost as much as a salary increase.  

Here's another example:
Natalia: Could you help me move this weekend?  I'll buy you pizza.
Cole: I don't know; you have a lot of stuff.  Isn't there any way you can sweeten the pot a bit more?
Natalia: Ok, then I'll take you to that new seafood restaurant you've been wanting to try.  The meal and drinks will be on me.
Cole: Deal!  What time are we packing the truck?

In this case, Natalia offered to buy Cole pizza if he helped her move, but Cole asked her to "sweeten the pot," meaning he wanted more for his help.  She then offered to take him to a more expensive dinner, which he accepted.


Note: this idiom is related to LSI's upcoming Las Vegas trip over Thanksgiving weekend.  For more information, contact the Marketing Department or ask the front desk at your school.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

To Have An Ace Up One's Sleeve

Idiom: to have an ace/something up one's sleeve; used as a verb

First Example:
Victor: Are you nervous about your audition tomorrow?
Jean: A little, but I think I have a pretty chance at getting the role.
Victor: What makes you so confident?  It sounds like a lot of people are auditioning for this movie.
Jean: Well, I kind of have an ace up my sleeve.  I knew the director when we were kids.  His sister was my best friend.
Victor: Do you think he'll remember you?
Jean: I changed my name when I got married, so he won't recognize the name, but I spent a lot of time at his house.  He has to remember me. 

Meaning: The expression "have an ace up one's sleeve" means to have a secret or surprise that will give that person an advantage.  The expression originally comes from people cheating at poker, when holding an ace (the most valuable card) up one's sleeve would give that person an advantage over the other players.  While it can still used for cheating in poker, the expression now has a less negative meaning when used in everyday conversation, as seen above. In this example, Jean believes that her knowing the director will help her get the movie role she is auditioning for.   Furthermore, the idiom has developed further so that "something" can now be used instead of "ace", with the expression "to have an something up one's sleeve" having the same meaning as the original, as in the next example:

Chris: Are you going to do anything special during the wedding ceremony tomorrow?
Edward: No.
Chris: I don't believe you.  I think you have something up your sleeve.
Edward: Well, promise not to tell anyone.
Chris: OK, I promise.
Edward: I'm going to sing Kate's favorite song to her during the ceremony, but no one really knows.  I want it to be a surprise, and I can't wait to see the look on her face.
Chris: She's gonna love it.    

In this case, Edward has a surprise "up his sleeve" for his wedding; he will be singing his new bride's favorite song to her.


Note: this idiom is related to LSI's upcoming Las Vegas trip over Thanksgiving weekend.  For more information, contact the Marketing Department or ask the front desk at your school.