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Thursday, May 15, 2014

To scorch & to roast

Idiom: to scorch & to roast; used as a verb

Carla: I just saw the news, and  it's going to be 97 today! I don't want to leave our air conditioned house.
Ken: I know! I went outside to take out the trash, and the sun was scorching!      
Carla: I'm not going to the movie.
Ken:  Fine by me; let's see if we can find something to watch on TV.

Meaning: Literally, "scorch" means to burn the exterior of something so that it is burnt or charred (for example, a blackened piece of chicken that is charred on the outside).  However, an American will sometimes say that the weather is "scorching," meaning that it is very hot. The idiomatic meaning of "scorch" suggests a person getting burnt by the sun, but it doesn't literally mean that the sun will blacken the person's skin. In the example above, Ken uses the idiomatic meaning of "scorch" to emphasize how hot the sun is - not that he actually got his skin burnt. Alternatively, there is another word with a similar idiomatic meaning, as seen below:

Ken: Why did you go outside? You know how hot it is.
Carla: I know, but I left my purse in my car yesterday! Unfortunately it was too late.  It was roasting in there, and my makeup was all ruined!                                       
Ken: Oh no! Was there a lot of makeup?
Carla:  Fortunately, I had only taken a few things with me last night, but it melted my favorite lipstick.
Ken: That's too bad - sorry to hear that.

Meaning: In this case, Carla uses the word "roast," which is usually used in cooking (for example, a roasted turkey) to idiomatically explain how hot it was in her car.  Since roasting is used for an enclosed heat, the idiomatic meaning is most often used when something is hot because it is closed up (for example, Carla's car), but it isn't limited to that use, and a sunbather who sits out in the sun for too long and burns his/her skin can be said to have roasted him/herself.

This week, we have been covering American idioms related to heat due to the high temperatures in Los Angeles. 

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