Archive for the Category: Idioms

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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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

Head over heels

When you’re head over heels about something or someone it means that you’re very excited, and/or turning cartwheels to demonstrate your excitement. This idiom is often used in the phrase ‘head over heels in love with’. It was probably first used in the 14th century, when it was ‘heels over head’, which makes more sense. […]

Also posted in English, Language, Words and phrases 12 Comments