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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Skeleton crew

Idiom: skeleton crew; used as a noun

First Example:
Toby: Are you going to the concert this Saturday?
Claire: No.  I have to work Saturday night.
Toby: That's too bad - but maybe you can get off a little early? It's usually pretty slow on the weekends.
Claire: Because it's always so slow, Tim decided to run a skeleton crew. There are only going to be three of us here manning the phones.
Toby: That's too bad.  Well, I'll take lots of pictures for you.
Claire: Thanks.

Meaning: The idiom "skeleton crew" is used when a business is operating with the minimum number of people.  This is usually done during an emergency or low demand causes there to be limited staff. In the example above, Claire says she will be working on a skeleton crew because there isn't enough demand for a full crew.  "Skeleton crew" is the American idiom, while British people use the alternative "skeleton staff." Here is another example of the American version:

Mary: Wow, the service at that restaurant was awful!         
William: Well, they were running on a skeleton crew.
Mary: Really?  How do you know?
William: When you were in the restroom, the waiter told me. Apparently, the manager fired a server everyone liked, so all of the servers went on strike. There was only one server for the whole restaurant tonight, and he had to act as bartender as well.
Mary: Then that explains why it seemed like he was always running around but everything came out so late.
William: Exactly. And that's why I left him a decent tip. I felt bad for him.

Meaning: In this example, Mary says the service at a restaurant was slow, and William explains that the restaurant's normal employees were on strike, leading to a skeleton crew of only one server.       @LSISB @LSIOC @LSINE @LSILA

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Skeleton(s) in one's closet

Idiom: skeleton(s) in one's closet ; used as a noun

First Example:

Michael: Why is Oscar so upset?
Pam: You didn't hear?  Everyone found out that his brother is in prison, and now he's really embarrassed.                                                      
Michael: Why? It's not like he's the one in jail.
Pam: True, but some people don't like others to know about their families' secrets.  And no one likes having the skeletons in their closet revealed.
Michael: That's true. I would hate it if everyone was talking about some deep, dark secret in my family.
Pam: Like what?
Michael: Well, like... Wait, I'm not gonna tell you!

Meaning: The idiom "skeleton(s) in one's closet" is used as a noun to refer to the embarrassing or shocking secrets that people have. The skeletons in the idiom refer to the secrets themselves, and the closet refers to keeping them "in the dark." "Skeleton's in one's closet" is the American idiom while British and Australian people use the alternative "skeleton(s) in one's cupboard." Here is another example of the American version:

Adviser: So, Mrs. Smith, before you run for office, I need to know. Do you have any skeletons in your closet?  Any affairs or other dirty little secrets?        
Politician: Not that I can think of.
Adviser: You don't have any past criminal behavior - any laws broken that might come out?
Politician: Like speeding tickets?
Adviser: No, no one cares about minor things like that. I'm talking about major things like drinking and driving, or a hit and run.
Politician: Nope, can't think of anything like that.
Adviser: Good.  Now let's discuss marketing...

Meaning: In this example, the adviser is asking if the politician has any skeletons in her closet. This idiom is commonly used when discussing the secrets of politicians and other public figures. The adviser even clarifies that minor issues, like speeding tickets, aren't really bad enough to be considered a skeleton in one's closet.       @LSISB @LSIOC @LSINE @LSILA