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Thursday, September 21, 2017

To Add Fuel to the Fire

Idiom: To add fuel to the fire - To do or say something to make a problem or bad situation worse; to further anger a person or group of people who are already angry

Context #1
Dan: Hey, Juan. Did you see the huge fight at the soccer match last night?
Juan: No, I didn’t. What happened?
Dan: Well, the home team was losing badly, but the visiting team was really playing dirty. The crowd was already angry.
Juan: Well, that’s understandable.
Dan: But then the fans from the visiting team started laughing and taunting the home team crowd by calling them names like “losers.” Of course, this only added fuel to the fire and the crowd got even angrier.
Juan: Wow! So the crowd attacked the visiting team’s fans?
Dan: Yep! The crowd started throwing things at the fans and then even punched some of them!
Juan: Well, I guess that is what happens when you add fuel to the fire, especially in front of a crowd of people!

Context #2
Samira:  Did you see the president’s speech last night about the conflict going on right now?
Polly: Yes, I did. Unfortunately, I think the president only added fuel to the fire because now the situation is even worse and the countries in the conflict are even more hostile.
Samira: I agree. What was the president thinking? He needs to be more diplomatic in his words in order to calm the situation down.
Polly: Right! Hopefully, he will be more careful in his next speech and try to predict peace instead of war.
Samira: Well, we can only hope. It seems like this president enjoys adding fuel to the fire. It’s good for his ratings.

Meaning: To add fuel to the fire means to make a situation worse or to further anger a person or group of people. In context 1, the fans from the visiting team added fuel to the fire, or made the home team crowd even angrier, by calling the crowd names. In context 2, the president made the conflict even worse by not using diplomatic language or language that would make the situation calmer

Monday, September 18, 2017

Right Off The Bat

Idiom: Right off the bat – Immediately, Instantly, Without Hesitation

Context #1
Tanya: Hi, Suzy. What’s wrong?
Suzy: Oh, hi Tanya. I’m so disappointed in my new apartment.
Tanya: What do you mean?
Suzy: Well, I was told that is was a fully furnished, new apartment, but I noticed that the heated floors and the electric fireplace are not turned on yet. It’s just really upsetting.
Tanya: Are you serious? Suzy, it’s September and still hot outside. You don’t even need those things yet. Besides, you can’t expect everything to be ready right off the bat. It’s a new apartment and they are still finishing things off.
Suzy: I guess you’re right. It's just that I paid a lot of money for that apartment, so is it too much to ask for things to be done right off the bat?
Tanya: I see your point.

Context #2
Sam:  Hey, Patricia. You look like you are in pain. What happened?
Patricia: Oh, I just went to my first bicycle lesson yesterday. I fell off the bike and crashed right off the bat.
Sam: Bicycle lesson? Do they actually have those types of lessons? Didn’t you learn how to ride a bike when you were a child?
Patricia: No, Sam, I didn’t! I know it’s strange, but I never learned and it’s super scary for me, especially since I hurt myself yesterday.
Sam: I learned right off the bat when I was six years old. It’s so easy.
Patricia: Well, good for you, Sam. It’s easy for children to learn, but for adults, it is more challenging.
Sam: I guess you are right. Good luck and be careful!

Meaning: “Right off the bat” means instantly or without hesitation. In context 1, Suzy expected everything in her expensive new apartment to be ready instantly or right off the bat. In context 2, Patricia doesn’t know how to ride a bike, and when she tried, she fell off the bike right off the bat. Sam responded that as a child, he learned right off the bat. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Bite off more than you can chew

Example 1: 

Christina: What's wrong?​ You look so stressed out​!

Adam: I am. I have 4 homework assignments tonight, a math test tomorrow, and I have to memorize my lines for the school play this weekend. Plus, I told my neighbor I would help her paint her house tomorrow!

Christina: Wow, that is too much! I think you bit off more than you can chew

Adam: You're right. I shouldn't have accepted so much responsibility, there's no way that I can do it all by myself.
Example 2:

Chase: How is your new job?

Austin: It's OK, but I'm a little bit nervous. Today was my first day, and my boss already assigned me 3 important projects. 

Chase: Wow, does he know that you don't have any experience?

Austin: I was afraid to tell her because I wanted to impress her. I think I may have bitten off more than I can chew. 

Chase: Maybe you can ask one of your coworkers for help so you don't have to do all the work by yourself!

Meaning: To try to do more than you are able to do; To try to do something that is too difficult for you.

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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Be a sitting duck

Example 1: 

Jin Young: How was your trip last weekend?

Dori: Not so good. Someone broke into my car and stole my bags!

Jin Young: Oh no! What happened?

Dori: Well, I was driving to my hotel, but somehow I got lost. I was in a bad neighborhood, I didn't know how to get around, and my cell phone had no service so I couldn't use my map!

Jin Young: Wow, it sounds like you would be an easy target for a robber.

Dori: Yeah, and then, my car broke down in the middle of the street! I was a sitting duck.  When I got out of the car to try to fix it, the burglar took my bags from my backseat. It was so easy for him!

Example 2: 

During the war, the two armies fought each other by firing weapons across an open field. One night, a soldier started sleepwalking toward the middle of the field. When the sun rose, he was a sitting duck, sitting alone with no weapons in the field!

Meaning: Something that is easy to attack; someone unprotected and vulnerable

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Thursday, August 31, 2017

To Storm Something


: It’s so hot. I really want a cold treat.
Sandra: Too late. I stormed the refrigerator earlier and ate all the ice cream.
Tony: Oh What?! That’s not cool. What am I supposed to enjoy now?
Sandra: Well, we can go to the supermarket and storm their ice cream section.
Tony: Tempting

Meaning: The expression "to storm something" means to take over or control something by force.   

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A long shot

Example 1:

I’ve been applying to several jobs in the last week. Many of them require advanced degrees, which is something I don’t have. However, I do have many years experience in the industry. I’ve been told not to bother applying for those jobs because I’m not qualified, but I still think I should try. I understand that and I know it’s a long shot, but I’m hopeful.

Example 2:

Jack: The Powerball Jackpot reached 2 billion dollars! Are you going to buy a ticket?
Jill: No way. I never play the lottery. It’s a waste of money.
Jack: Of course it’s a long shot, but wouldn’t it be amazing to buy a 2-dollar ticket and win 2 billion?! I think it’s worth it for the excitement alone!


A long shot is something that probably won’t happen, but is worth trying for despite that. 

In example 1, the speaker is applying for jobs that have a specific education requirement. Although he knows there’s a chance it won’t work, he will try anyway. 

In example 2, Jack knows he probably won’t win the lottery, but he thinks it’s worth trying anyway.
This expression is often used with it is in the contracted form It’s
IT’S a long shot, but I’m going to apply for that job.
It is also used with be verb.
Winning the lottery IS a long shot, but I’m going to play.

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Friday, August 25, 2017

A bee in her/his/my bonnet

Example 1:

Debbie has been really unhappy recently. I thought she was just busy and maybe a little stressed out. It turns out she’s had a bee in her bonnet about something I said to her last week. She was complaining that she never has money. She goes to school full time, but she still has a lot of free time, so I suggested she get a part-time job instead of going to so many parties. Apparently, she didn’t like that and has been mad at me since then. I was just trying to help!

Example 2:

I really don’t like when people borrow something and “forget” to return it. That has always been a bee in my bonnet.


Imagine wearing a hat (a bonnet) and then imagine a bee inside your bonnet! You would certainly not be comfortable or calm. This expression is generally used to talk about negative feelings. There are a few ways to use a bee in my/his/her bonnet. 

In example 1, Debbie has a bee in her bonnet about something the speaker said. In other words, Debbie is upset/angry about what the speaker said. 

In example 2, the speaker explains that it bothers them when borrowed items are not returned; this is a bee in their bonnet.
Use the verb have to show angry.
Debbie HAS a bee in her bonnet. Debbie is angry.
Use the verb be when talking about something that bothers you.

Littering on the street IS a bee in my bonnet. I don’t like littering. 

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

To talk one's ear off

Idiom: to talk one's ear off ; used as a verb

First Example:

Christine: How was the party last night?
Stanley: Ugh. It was horrible.
Christine: Really? What happened?
Stanley: Well, I went because I wanted to network. There were a bunch of industry people there. But I met this one guy named Prince, and he talked my ear off all night. I couldn't get away from him.
Christine: Couldn't you excuse yourself and just not go back to him?        
Stanley: I couldn't get a chance to talk! I even excused myself once to go to the restroom, and he followed me!

Meaning: The expression "to talk one's ear off " means to talk to someone excessively. In the above example, Stanley says Prince "talked his ear off" at a party, preventing Stanley from meeting other people.

Second Example:

George: Your phone is ringing.
Tracy: I know. It's my mom. I don't feel like answering.
George: Why not?
Tracy: We're hanging out. If I answer, she'll talk my ear off, and you'll eventually get bored listening to me say "Uh huh" and "Yeah" for an hour.
George: Can't you just tell her you'll call her back?
Tracy: Ha! No, then she'd be offended. It's better if she leaves a voicemail, and I'll call her back later.

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Break Someone’s Heart


: Thank you for taking me to see the puppies.
Ceasar: I told you they were cute. I just didn’t think you would bring one home.
Hanna: Well, it broke my heart to leave such a cute puppy all alone in a cage. 
Ceasar: You’re breaking my heart with the thought of how much time we have to dedicate to this cute animal.

Meaning: The expression "to break someone’s heart" means to cause or create pain and anguish on anyone on a deep emotional level.  To make someone extremely sad.

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

To stop dead n one's tracks

Idiom: to stop dead in one's tracks; used as a verb


Larry: How was your camping trip?
Vickie: It was awesome! Except for the bear.
Larry: The bear?!
Vickie: Yeah, we went out for a night hike, and when we returned, there was a bear in our campsite going through our food. We forgot to put everything away.
Larry: What did you do?
Vickie: When I first saw it, I stopped dead in my tracks; I was terrified. But then Christina suggested that we should try to scare it away. So we got in her car and turned it on. We honked the horn, revved the engine, and we yelled and clapped, and that scared it away.

Meaning: The expression "to stop dead in one's tracks" means to suddenly stop moving, usually when frightened. In the above example, Vickie says she "stopped dead in (her) tracks" when she saw a bear. The expression comes from hunting and can also be used in the more literal meaning. 

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

To Scratch the surface

Example 1: 

Katya: Hey,​Yuko! What did you learn about in school today?

Yuko: Our professor talked about space. We learned about stars, planets, and black holes. It was so interesting!

Katya: Wow! I've always wondered if there could be life on other planets. Did you learn about that?

Yuko: No, our lesson was only one hour long. The professor only scratched the surface. I will have to learn a lot more about space before I can understand it completely.

Example 2: 

Amy: How was your trip to Los Angeles?

Jason: It was great, but I wish it had been​ longer. I was there for a week, and I got to see the Santa Monica Pier, the Hollywood sign, and the ​Dodger Stadium. But I feel like there is so much more to see and do in LA. I barely scratched the surface

Meaning: To ​talk about a topic on a superficial level; not go deeply into the subject; only deal with a small part of a problem or situation.

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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Stand over someone

Example 1: 

Lina: How was your math test?

Matthew: It was OK, but it was hard for me to focus. My teacher was standing over me during the whole test. I think she was watching me to see if I made any mistakes, but it was very distracting.

Lina: That's strange. When I took the test she stood over me the whole time too! Maybe she thinks that we are going to cheat, so she is watching us closely to make sure that we don't.

Example 2: 

Rafael: Why are you so tired?

Elena: I couldn't sleep last night. Every time I closed my eyes, I imagined that someone was standing over me, watching me sleep! I think it's because of the horror movie I watched last weekend.

Rafael: Creepy! 

Meaning: To stand next to someone and watch what they are doing

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Friday, July 28, 2017

To be a crybaby

Context #1

Steve: Man, our teacher gives us way too much homework. It's not fair.
Chris: Oh, it's not that much. Don't be a crybaby.

Context #2

Bethany: My little brother is such a crybaby.
Jody: My little brother is pretty tough. He never cries.
Bethany: My little brother cries over everything.

Meaning: "to be a cry baby" can be used for children or adults.  When used for children, it describes a child that cries a lot and even over small issues.  When used for adults, it describes someone who complains a lot, especially over little things. 

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

To have a sweet tooth

Context #1

Sara: Would you like a piece of this chocolate cake? It's so good!
Jim: No thank. I really don't have much of a sweet tooth.

Context #2

Cathy: When I was a little I ate too much candy. I had a lot of cavities.
Tom: I think that's pretty normal. Kids usually have a sweet tooth.

Meaning: "to have a sweet tooth" is an expression that means someone likes to eat sweet things like cookies, candy, cake, and other desserts.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Make Yourself at Home

Idiom: Make Yourself at Home: Make yourself comfortable in one's house and do not be so formal.

Context #1 

A friend is visiting his classmate’s home for the first time

Mark: Hey, Mannie! I’m so glad you came. Please come in and make yourself at home.
Mannie: Hi, Mark. Thank you. Umm…where should I sit?
Mark: Why are you being so formal? Please, sit anywhere you would like. Also, if you want anything to eat or drink, feel free to go into the kitchen and get it.
Mannie: Thanks, again.
Mark: Don’t mention it. My house is your house!

Context #2 

Two roommates talking about a visitor after she left

Cassandra: Thank goodness Sherry is gone! Can you even believe how she acted while visiting our home?
Tabitha: It was so outrageous! She just made herself at home like she owned the place.
Cassandra: Did you see her just open the fridge and take out that bottle of wine without even asking us? She must have poured herself at least two glasses!
Tabitha: Unbelievable. We aren’t inviting her over again. I don’t like it when people we don’t know very well act so casually around us. I mean, we should be good friends before she starts making herself at home and drinking all our wine.
Cassandra: I agree.

Explanation: “Make yourself at home” means for someone to be comfortable in another person’s house and to not act so formally. In context 1, Mark knows Mannie very well from class and encourages him to “make himself at home” and to act in a less formal way. This is typically how we use this idiom. However, in context 2, Cassandra and Tabitha are upset that Sherry, a person they did not know very well, just “made herself at home” or acted really casually in their house. It was not appropriate for Sherry to act this way since she was not asked to make herself at home and she did not know Tabitha and Cassandra very well. 

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