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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Chasing rainbows

Idiom: Chasing rainbows

Example 1: Sarah is so beautiful and talented! I sometimes dream about what life would be like if she were my girlfriend. I'm too shy to talk to her, but even if I could, I know I would just be chasing rainbows. There's no way she would be interested in me. 

Example 2: My friend is always trying new "get rich quick" schemes. She spends a lot of her money on lottery tickets and workshops that promise to help people achieve wealth in a short time. I try to help her be realistic and tell her that she is just chasing rainbows. Some people can get lucky and win the lottery, but most people won't. 

Meaning: A rainbow is a beautiful arc of color that appears after the rain. A rainbow cannot be touched or held in your hands because it is merely a visual phenomenon created by the sunlight's effect on water droplets in the air. Therefore, when someone chases rainbows, this person is chasing/going after something that is impossible or unrealistic. 

As in example 1, "Sarah" is the rainbow. The speaker knows it's an impossible goal.
In example 2, "getting rich quick" is the rainbow. It is an unrealistic goal.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The calm before the storm

Idiom: The calm before the storm

Example 1: It was just before the department store was to open on "Black Friday," the biggest shopping day of the year. The store was very quiet, but the sales clerks knew this was just the calm before the storm. As soon as the doors open, there will be hundreds of customers rushing in to try to grab the best merchandise.

Example 2: The sky was dark full of clouds. The weather report said there was a big rainstorm on its way. The calm before the storm lasted only a short while. In just a few minutes, thunder, lightning, and strong winds began to rattle the small village. 

Meaning: The calm before the storm can be used figuratively (as in Example 1) or literally (as in Example 2). This expression describes a period of quiet and calmness before an anticipated period of exciting or chaos.