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Friday, December 22, 2017

to cut to the chase

Idiom: to cut to the chase; used as a verb

First Example:

Henry: ...and then, I asked if there was going to be a meeting about this, or if it was just a decision from management, but she couldn't tell me, although she did not seem to want a meeting...       
Patti: Can you just cut to the chase already? Are they making the change or not?
Henry: Oh, uh, yeah, the managers decided.
Patti: Great, thanks.

Meaning: The expression "to cut to the chase " means to focus on what's important. As in the above example, the expression is often used when someone is telling a story or giving background, but the other person just wants to know the final outcome.

Second Example:

Lou: I need a new assistant. Mine is not working out.
Nico: Why not?
Lou: She gets hung up on little details, but our office is such a fast-paced environment. I need someone who can cut to the chase and get things done.
Nico: I think I know someone who might be perfect. I'll tell her to send you her resume.
Lou: Thanks!

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to drink like a fish

Idiom: to drink like a fish; used as a verb

First Example:

Darla: Oh, is Tom out sick?                          
Jane: You haven't heard? He got in an accident last night.
Darla: Was he drunk driving?
Jane: Yeah, how'd you guess.
Darla: I mean, he did drink like a fish. It was only a matter of time.

Meaning: The expression "to drink like a fish" means to excessively drink alcohol frequently. The expression is not used for someone who drinks on occasion (even if they get very drunk when they do drink), but rather, someone who drinks nearly every day.

Second Example:

Frances: I need to take it easy this weekend.
James: Why? You don't want to go out?
Frances: No, I've been going out too much. I think I've gone every night this month, and I've been drinking like a fish. I think I need to just chill and get some rest.
James: OK, but we're going out, so if you change your mind, you know where to find us!
Frances: The bar?
James: Of course!
Frances: You have fun. I'll stay in.

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finger lickin' good

Idiom: finger lickin' good; used as an adjective

First Example:

Billy: Have you been to that new barbeque place?    
Etta: Yeah, and their ribs really are finger linkin' good.
Billy: Ooh, that sounds good, and now I want ribs.
Etta: Let's go for lunch!

Meaning: The expression "finger lickin' good " is used for especially good food. It literally that the food is so good that you will lick your fingers after, although not everyone who says the expression will literally lick their fingers. "Finger lickin' good" was initially a slogan for Kentucky Fried Chicken (now KFC), and while it is still sometimes used by the company, it has become a popular expression outside of KFC.

Second Example:                               

Mom: What do you want for dessert for your birthday? Cake?
Son: No. Can you make that finger lickin' good brownie you made last month?
Mom: Sure! That was good, wasn't it?

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

To cross one's fingers

Idiom: to cross one's fingers; used as a verb

First Example:

Oscar: I have a job interview later today.     
Tiffany: What's it for?
Oscar: A new startup - it pays better than my current job; plus, it's what I went to school for.
Tiffany: That sound perfect.
Oscar: Yeah. Cross your fingers that it goes well.  
Tiffany: I will!

Meaning: The expression "to cross one's fingers " means to wish for something to happen. In the above example, Oscar says Tiffany to "cross your fingers" that his interview goes well. In American culture, people often physically cross their fingers to non-verbally say "wish me luck;" you can also ask someone to "cross their fingers" or say that you are "crossing your fingers" without physically doing so for the same meaning.

Second Example:

Mom: Why were you up all night?
Son: I was studying. I have a big test today.
Mom: I thought you were playing video games.
Son: No, I'm just nervous about this test.

Mom: I'll be crossing my fingers that you do well!

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

At the drop of a hat


My friend had an extra Taylor Swift ticket and offered it to me. She's my favorite, so I took the ticket at the drop of a hat. I didn't even hesitate for a second.

Meaning: To do something suddenly or immediately, especially because you're excited about it.

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

To have an axe to grind


I have an axe to grind with my friend. I lent him $100, and he said he'd pay me back the next day, but it's already been over two weeks. The next time I see him, I'm not going to be in a good mood when we talk.

Meaning: This expression means that someone in the past treated you poorly, and you have a problem with what the did, and you are angry at them.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Example 1: Two friends gossiping about their classmate

Camila: Hey, Barbara, have you see Johnny's new girlfriend?? 

Barbara: Oh my goodness, yes. Where did he meet her? 

Camila: I have no idea. I always thought Johnny was pretty good looking, but his girlfriend, uh, not so much....

Barbara: Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder I guess. Johnny probably sees something we can't see. 

Example 2: Roommates discussing furniture

Jay: This is the amazing couch you were telling me about?! It's kind of ugly, Jeff.

Jeff: What are you talking about?! This print reminds me of when I was a kid. I love it!

Jay: Well, to me, it's super old-fashioned and outdated. 

Jeff: You know what they say, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder," and I love it!


In both examples, one person believes someone/something is ugly. The "beholder" is the person who is looking at the person/object and sees them/it through their eyes/preference/experience. In example 1, Johnny (the beholder) sees beauty in his girlfriend even though others cannot. In example 2, Jeff (the beholder) sees a beautiful couch while Jay thinks it's ugly. Basically, the expression means people can see some beauty when others might not.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Read between the lines

Example 1:

Will: Mary won’t return my calls.  I’m not sure if she’s sad or sick.
Heather: Did anything happen? 
Will: I told her I liked her as a girlfriend, and she just disappeared.  I’m not sure why she won’t return my phone calls.
Heather: You have to read between the lines Will.  I don’t think she likes you the same way, and she’s trying to show you by staying away.

Example 2:

Mark: I can’t understand what the point of this statement is.  I can understand the words and content, but not the main idea.
Alice: Sometimes you have to read between the lines to understand what someone is trying to tell you.
Mark: What do you mean?
Alice: Well, sometimes things have a hidden meaning or implied meaning.  Look for clues.

Read between the lines means to look for a the meaning of something hidden in a statement.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

To fall for someone

Example 1:

Veronica: I want to tell you something, but please don’t run away.
Charles: Is it pretty bad?  I’m not sure, but okay tell me.
Veronica: I have fallen for you
Charles: Really?  I fell for you too.

Example 2:

Nick: I’m not happy that my sister is dating someone I hate.  It’s just not fair.
Every: What?  Your sister fell for that crazy guy from the concert.  Not good.


To Fall For Someone means to fall in love with a person.  In the first example, both Veronica and Charles liked each other and decided to confess.  In the second example, Nick was upset that his sister made poor choice in men, as his friend Emery described him as “crazy guy.”

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

To Fancy Someone or Something

Idiom: To fancy someone means to be attracted to or like a person; to fancy something means to want something (like an object or product) or to want to do something (like an activity).

Context #1

Millie: Hey, Val. You look happy. What are you thinking about?

Val: Oh, hi Millie. Well, you know that I fancy that new guy in class, right?

Millie: The guy from New York? Bill?

Val: Yes. That guy. Well, he just asked me out a few minutes ago. We are having dinner together on Friday night!

Millie: Great news! He obviously fancies you, too!

Context #2: Two friends are talking about a weekend trip

Candy: I'm so excited about this weekend! I really fancy skiing, especially at Big Bear mountain!

Tarik: I know. It is going to be so fun! Do you have all your skiing gear?

Candy: Yes. Here it is.

 Wow! I really fancy your ski goggles! They are so cool. 

Candy: I just bought them at that new sporting store down the street. They were really cheap and there are many colors to choose from.

Explanation: To fancy someone means to be attracted to or like a person; to fancy something means to want something (like an object or product) or to want to do something (like an activity). In context 1, Val fancies Bill and she is happy because he just asked her out on a date. In context 2, Candy fancies skiing (an activity) and Tarik fancies Candy's ski goggles (thing).

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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

To Lose One's Train of Thought

Idiom: To lose one's train of thought means to forget what one was talking or thinking about.

Context #1 – Two students talking after history class

Mitzi: Ms. Cranston is so strange! Did you see what happened today?

Valerie: No, I wasn't in class today. What happened?

Mitzi: So she was in the middle of giving the lecture. A student in the front raised his hand and asked a question. It seemed like the student's question made Ms. Cranston lose her train of thought because after she answered the student's question, she just stood there for like two minutes saying nothing and staring into space. It was so weird!

Valerie: Mitzi, you are new in the class. I had Ms. Cranston last year and she always loses her train of thought when students ask questions. She can't seem to get back to where she was in the lecture.

Mitzi: Really? Wow, that's too bad for her. Maybe we should try to help remind her when this happens.

Valerie: Well, you could try!

Context #2: Two friends are talking about a weekend trip

Cassie: Hi Tabitha. How was your weekend?

Tabitha: Oh, it was great! Tom and I went camping in the woods and we had such a strange experience at night. It was late and we were setting up the tent and getting ready for bed. Tom had just finished putting away our hiking gear when......

Cassie: Wait a minute! Where did you go camping? Was it near here or did you have to drive far?

Tabitha: What? No, it was at Mt. Baldy which is not very far away. Ummmm.....Oh Cassie, don't interrupt. Now I've lost my train of thought. What was I saying?

Cassie: You were saying that you were getting ready for bed and Tom was putting away the hiking gear.

Tabitha: Oh, right. He was putting away the hiking gear when all of a sudden we heard a loud noise and then a growl! We saw a bear right there in front of us and we were so scared. But then the bear just turned around and went back into the woods.

Cassie: Wow! You were lucky!

Explanation: “To lose one's train of thought" means to forget what one was talking or thinking about. In context 1, the teacher, Ms. Cranston, often loses her train of thought (or forgets what she was lecturing about) when students interrupt with questions. In context 2, Tabitha lost her train of thought when Cassie interrupted her with a question.

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Monday, November 6, 2017

A wolf in sheep’s clothing

Example 1:

Madeline: Watch out for him. I don’t believe he’s the “nice guy” everyone thinks he is.
Sally: How do you know?
Madeline: I don’t really have any proof, but I get a sense he’s just a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He’s being nice now, but he’ll take advantage of you if he can.
Example 2:

Allison: I just had the greatest experience at the used-car dealer! I met the nicest salesman who showed me so many great cars. He promised me he’d give me the best deal.
Bradley: Be careful, buddy! Used-car salesmen are not known for being the most honest people. They’re often characterized as wolves in sheep’s clothing. Just make sure that what he promises is what you pay. And DON’T sign anything until you’re sure.


A wolf in sheep’s clothing is a biblical idiom that is used to warn people against individuals who do not show their true intentions in order to gain from unsuspecting people. Imagine a wolf, generally a dangerous animal, disguising itself as a sheep in order to take advantage of someone. 

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

As quiet as a mouse

Example 1:

Mom: Shhhh! The baby just fell asleep. It took my so long to put her to bed.
Dad: OK. So I guess I shouldn’t watch the football game in the next room?
Mom: Don’t even think about it! I need you to be as quiet as a mouse.

Example 2:

Sharlene is a brand new student in my class. She’s in our advanced class, but I can’t tell if she speaks English very well; she’s as quiet as a mouse and almost never answers when the teacher calls on her.


To be as quiet as a mouse means to be extremely quiet. In Example 1, Mom tells Dad that he must be extremely quiet because the baby has just fallen asleep. In Example 2, Sharlene is a very quiet and shy student. 

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Ripoff

Context #1

Jim: Wow!  Look at the ticket prices for the Jay-Z concert.  The cheapest tickets in the seats way up at the top are over $200!
David: That's a ripoff!

Context #2

Sara: I need to get my oil changed, but the place I went to was going to charge me $100.
Christine: Don't do it!  That's a ripoff!  You should try somewhere else.

Meaning: "ripoff" is a noun, and it is used for any time something is unreasonably expensive.  Sometimes it's because something is just too expensive, and sometimes it's because people are being dishonest and trying to take money from the customers or consumers.

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Monday, October 9, 2017

Wet Blanket


: I can’t wait to go to Bangkok.  It’s going to be so much fun. There are so many places to see.
Vijo: I hate the city. I prefer a more quiet countryside place. The city is for unstable people.
Kim: Oh, don’t be such a wet blanket. Why do you always have to complain when I want to do something that’s fun for me?  We always do what you want and I never complain.
Vijo: You’re right, I’m sorry. I always seem to have this behavior when this happens. I’m sorry; I’m just really uncomfortable with city people. I’ll give it an honest try this time.
Kim: I would really appreciate that. Nobody likes a wet blanket

Meaning: The expression "wet blanket" means a person that is always negative and usually ruins other people’s good times. 

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Haste makes waste


: I heard you won some money from the lottery. 
Michael: I did.  I’m going to buy a house, and a boat, and get married, and……
Ina: Whoa! Wait a second. Don’t you want to save or invest some of that money? Also, don’t you want to wait to get to know your girlfriend better before you make a mistake? I mean haste makes waste, don’t you think?
Michael: What are you saying? I mean, I love her and I want to share my new wealth. Besides, I always wanted all that other stuff.
Ina: I know you’re excited right now, but you have to think about things before rushing and making mistakes that could cost you more in the future.

Meaning: The expression "haste makes waste" means to rush into something, or do something quickly, with the possibility of making mistakes that may cause one severe problems or a waste of money and/or materials.

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Thursday, October 5, 2017

A Bull in a China Shop

Idiom: A bull in a china shop: behaving like a clumsy or careless person and causing damage in situations that require careful thinking or actions.

Context #1 – Two salespeople are discussing a wealthy client

Mitzi: Hey, Valerie! How did it go yesterday at Mrs. Christensen’s penthouse? I heard it’s really gorgeous and full of expensive furniture and art.
Valerie: It was an absolute disaster. I’ll be lucky if I still have a job when the boss finds out about my visit.
Mitzi: Why? What happened?
Valerie: Well, my babysitter was sick yesterday, so I had no choice but to take along Jason, my three-year-old son.
Mitzi: Oh, no!
Valerie: Oh, yes. As you know, he is a very active little boy. He was like a bull in a china shop. He caused so much damage by knocking stuff over and breaking her expensive things.
Mitzi: I’m so sorry, Valerie. Maybe the boss will understand. I’ve heard she has children, too.
Valerie: Well, I hope so. I’ve offered to pay for all the damage Jason caused.

Context #2: Two friends talking after class

Cassie: I can’t believe how Sherry acted during our class meeting!
Tabitha: I know! Didn’t anyone tell her that the situation was delicate and that we had to be careful with our complaints to the teacher?
Cassie: I told her that we needed to be careful. Mr. Johnson is a good teacher, but he just needs to talk slowly and write more on the board. We didn’t want to hurt his feelings.
Tabitha: Well, she obviously didn’t listen. Sherry was like a bull in a china shop and just went on and on complaining about every little thing Mr. Johnson does. I thought he was about to cry!
Cassie: She was careless with her words, and I think she messed everything up even more.
Tabitha: I’m going to go talk to Mr. Johnson now and tell him that Sherry doesn’t represent us.
Cassie: Good idea. I’ll go with you.

Explanation: “A bull in a china shop” is used for a person who breaks things or who often makes mistakes or causes damage in situations that require careful thinking or behavior. In the first context, Valerie’s 3-year old son caused a lot of damage in the penthouse apartment full of expensive things. In context 2, Sherry complained very carelessly about the teacher when everyone had agreed to be careful and respectful in their criticism. Therefore, Sherry behaved carelessly, or like a bull in a china shop.