Archive for the Category: Idioms

Wire twists

The electricians have been rewiring my new house this week and finished today, so I thought it would be interesting to looking the etymology of the word wire. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, wire comes from the Old English word wir (metal drawn out into a thread), which is related to the Old Norse […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, Irish, Language, Latin, Old Norse, Welsh, Words and phrases 11 Comments

The yellowing of the year

We were discussing Irish idioms involving colours today and one of the ones I really liked was buíú na bliana*, which literally means “the yellowing of the year” and refers to the time when spring is becoming summer and the light becomes yellower and warmer. Red or dearg is used in expressions such as: deargbhréag, […]

Also posted in Irish, Language, Words and phrases 9 Comments

Falling in the apples

Last night in the French conversation group the idiom “tomber dans les pommes” (to fall into the apples) came up. As it was in the context of somebody actually falling I took it literally at first and pictured the person falling into some apples or into an orchard. Then it was explained that it means […]

Also posted in French, Language 13 Comments

Duvet day

It rained heavily on and off most of yesterday and I overheard someone on the bus commenting that it was a “duvet day”. I don’t remember hearing this expression before, but from the context I thought she meant that because the weather was so unpleasant, she would prefer to spend the day under her duvet […]

Also posted in English, Language 16 Comments

Up to your ears?

When you’re very busy, you can say that you’re up to your ears with work, as I was last week with reports, presentations, an essay and lots of reading to do. In English you can also say that you’re up to your eyes, eyeballs, elbows or neck, snowed under, drowning, swamped, rushed/run off your feet […]

Also posted in Language 26 Comments

As dear as …

I came across an interesting simile in the Scottish Gaelic course I’m currently working my way through: cho daor ris an t-salainn (as dear as salt), which indicates that something is very expensive. Salt must have been a luxury when this one was coined. Other Scottish Gaelic similes (samhlaidean) used to indicate that something is […]

Also posted in Irish, Language, Scottish Gaelic Comments Off on As dear as …

Word of the day – 成語

成語 [成语] (chéngyǔ) are Chinese idioms usually consisting of four characters. They tend to pack a lot of meaning into those four characters and many have a story, myth or moral behind them from Classical Chinese literature, in which they were used extensively. If you’re not familiar with the stories, it will be very difficult […]

Also posted in Chinese, Japanese, Language Comments Off on Word of the day – 成語

Signed off

The other day I heard that one of my colleagues had been “signed off”. As this was the first time I’d heard this expression in this context I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Later I discovered that she had been signed off by her doctor due to carpal tunnel syndrome and would be […]

Also posted in English, Language, Words and phrases Comments Off on Signed off

Idiom of the day

In English when you give up on something or admit that you’re defeated, you might say that you’re throwing in the towel or the sponge, a phrase that comes from boxing. In Welsh you put the fiddle on the roof: rhoi’r ffidil ar y tô. I like the image this conjures up. Other Welsh idioms […]

Also posted in Language, Welsh 9 Comments

Coals to Newcastle and missed boats

Taking or carrying coals to Newcastle is an idiomatic expression that means doing something that is completely unnnecessary, pointless or superfluous. The German equivalent of this is Eulen nach Athen bringen/tragen – to take/bring owls to Athens. Are there similar expressions in other languages? Newcastle-upon-Tyne used to be a major coal mining area and the […]

Also posted in English, Language 14 Comments
%d bloggers like this: