If you read newspapers or magazines, you will always be able to find articles about people or things that are supposedly getting a bum rap. The English idiom to get a bum rap means ❛to receive unfair criticism or blame❜. Here is an example:
Teachers are getting a bum rap. They are being blamed for all of the problems in our education system today.
Here are some other people, animals or things that have supposedly been getting a bum rap:
President getting bum rap over oil and energy policies
- dailyinterlake.com, 29 April 2012, Francis Breidenbach
Is Ethanol Getting a Bum Rap?
- businessweek.com, 1 May 2008, John Carey
Nat geo WILD: Bum Rap - A History of Vilifying Sharks
- newswatch.nationalgeographic.com, 24 November 2011, Matthew Zymet
The authors of these articles feel that the President, ethanol and sharks have been unfairly criticized, i.e. they have gotten a bum rap.
Is there anyone or anything that you feel has been getting a bum rap lately?
A ❛person who worries too much or worries about unimportant things❜ is called a worrywart. Worrywarts are ❛worriers❜ who worry excessively and unnecessarily. Here is an example of how this English idiom can be used:
Walter constantly worried about his children, Waltraud and Wilma. He was a worrywart.
The following two articles talk about worrywarts, the impact that they have on others and, quite interestingly, themselves:
Are you a worrywart parent?
- annarbor.com, 1 November 2011, Kerry Novick
Being a Worrywart Can Shorten Your Life
- healthguidance.org, Mark Thomas
Women are Worrywarts - For Good Reason
The second article claims that worrying, which always goes ❝hand-in-hand❞ with stress, can shorten a person’s life. Do you believe that worrywarts have shorter lifespans?
Parents go overboard to help college kid get job
- msnbc.msn.com, 24 May 2010, Eve Tahminciogiu
This article talks about how some parents help their children ❛too much❜ in the job-search process, i.e. how parents go overboard trying the help their children find a job.
Naturally, there are many, many other areas in which people can go overboard. Watch this YouTube video for another good example:
Test your ❛busybody❜ vocabulary! Which of the following English idioms is a synonym for the term busybody?
a) nosy parker
b) party pooper
Go to the following article on personality types to find the correct answer.
Do you know what to miss the boat means? Look at this sample sentence and select the correct definition of this English idiom:
Don’t miss the boat! Apply for the job today!
To miss the boat means...
a) to misunderstand something
b) to be silly
c) to do or say something that causes problems
d) to lose an opportunity
Click here to go to the correct definition of to miss the boat.
Mistaking Sweden for Switzerland was the worst gaffe that the Ikea CEO has ever made.
Finding good examples of gaffes on the internet is not difficult. People like to write and read about the mistakes of others and gaffes, therefore, tend to make the headlines. Here are some examples of gaffes:
Barack Obama makes Falklands gaffe by calling Malvinas the Maldives
- dailytelegraph.co.uk, 16 April 2012, Jonathan Gilbert
France’s Nicolas Sarkozy admits Fukushima nuclear gaffe
- bbc.co.uk, 13 April 2012, BBC
Myer ridiculed over grammar gaffe in Australia-wide adverts
- heraldsun.com.au, 4 January 2012, Nathan Mawby
It’s good to know that you can make grammar gaffes too, isn’t it? Could you see the grammar mistake that the Herald Sun was referring to in the last headline?
For a visual impression of what a gaffe can be, have a look at the following video of former Italian Prime Minster Silvio Berlusconi as he arrives for a NATO Summit in Germany in 2009 and keeps German Chancellor Angela Merkel waiting for him:
Click here, if you are interested in learning more English idioms related to making mistakes.
Look at the following short dialogue and, then, select the correct definition of the English idiom to be music to someone’s ears:
Aisha: How did you feel when you heard the news?
Louis: Quite frankly, it was music to my ears. I couldn’t believe my luck.
The expression to be music to someone’s ear refers to...
a) something that makes you happy
b) something that makes you sad
c) something that you do not want to hear
d) something that is not truthful
Click here for the correct definition.
Have you put your foot in your mouth recently? The English idiom to put your foot in your mouth means to ❛say the wrong thing❜, i.e. something embarrassing, inappropriate or unintended. Here are two examples that demonstrate how this English idiom can be used:
I really put my foot in my mouth when I told Estelle that I didn’t like the cake that she had baked.
Frank apologized when he realized that he had put his foot in his mouth.
The following YouTube video shows part of an interview in which Jill Biden, wife of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, puts her foot in her mouth.
It is not uncommon to put your foot in your mouth - in fact, it is very human. Can you think of some instances in which you really said the wrong thing at the wrong moment?
I am not interested in what you did on the weekend. Stop beating around the bush and answer my question.
Get to the point, Phil. Don’t beat around the bush!
I knew that she had something important to tell me, but, for three hours, she just beat around the bush.
Which of the following English idioms mean the opposite of to beat around the bush? There are three correct answers.
a) to talk turkey
b) to say it like it is
c) to be point-blank
d) to talk shop
e) to say cheese
Click here for the correct answers.
Some people think that learning English is as easy as abc, but is it really? Just how ❛easy❜ are these English idioms? Test you knowledge by matching the idioms below (a - d) with their appropriate definitions (1 - 6) - but, be aware, there are two extra definitions:
a) Take it easy!
b) Easy does it!
c) go easy
d) easy on the eye
1) calm down
4) to not take or use too much of something
5) be careful
6) very easy
Click here for the answers.
Yotaro Hatamura: Was Fukushima an Accident Waiting to Happen?
- pbs.org, 28 February 2012, FRONTLINE
US deficit ❛accident waiting to happen,❜ says IIF head
-channelnewsasia.com, 26 February 2012, AFP/de
Cell Phone Texting: A Car Accident Waiting to Happen
Abandoned buildings are ❛accidents waiting to happen❜, says Manchester Councillor following Levenshulme fire
-mancunianmatters.co.uk, 6 April 2012, Sean-Paul Doran and Darren heath
The articles above refer to the nuclear plant disaster in Fukushima, the US deficit and abandoned buildings as accidents waiting to happen, i.e. foreseeable or predictable problems.
The following YouTube video - an advertisement that shows what can happen when you drive too fast - will give you a visual impression of what an accident waiting to happen is:
Often related to a particular business, field of study or social group, buzzwords are ❛trendy words❜ which are in vogue for a certain period of time. Sometimes, these words only sound impressive but are, in fact, of little meaning. Here are some examples of buzzwords. Do you know what they mean?
Find out the definitions of these buzzwords here.
Why does Sarah Haskins, the host of Target Women, like chick flicks? What reasons does she provide?
It must be difficult to be married to Frieda - she is a real penny pincher!
A penny pincher is...
a) someone who is extremely careful with money
b) someone who spends a lot of money
c) someone who complains a lot
d) someone who talks a lot
For the correct definition of the English idiom penny pincher, click here.
The definition of the English idiom to be all ears is ❛to be waiting attentively to hear something❜. It is typically used in a dialogue like the following one:
Muriel: I can’t wait to tell you about my job interview.
Sabeen: I am all ears!
In the dialogue above, Sabeen lets Muriel know that she is ❛listening and waiting to hear about her job interview❜ by saying that she is all ears.
Below, you will find a youtube video of a commercial that uses the expression ❛We’re all ears❜ as its advertising slogan. What kind of company do you think would use this phrase as an advertising slogan? Watch the video and find out:
What other companies/businesses do you think could use the English idiom to be all ears as part of their advertising campaigns?
Microsoft Slams Google Privacy Changes With ❝Putting People First❞ Ad Campaign
- marketingland.com, 1 February 2012, Danny Sullivan
Volvo slams EU carbon targets as ❛unrealistic❜
- edie.net, 22 March 2012, edie newsroom
Samsung Galaxy Campaign Brilliantly Slams iPhone Fanboy Culture
- adage.com, 23 November 2011, Michael Leamonth
In 2011, U.S. President Barack Obama publicly slammed Donald Trump, who had incorrectly suggested that Obama was not American-born and even questioned the validity of his birth certificate. Watch the following video to see how Obama slams Donald Trump:
Look at the following sentence and, then, select the correct definition of the English idiom to hit the spot:
Grandma’s dinner really hit the spot.
To hit the spot means...
a) to taste good and satisfy you
b) to not taste good
c) to be well done
d) to be a failure
Click here for the correct definition of to hit the spot.
Have you ever heard someone say that he or she was tickled pink? Meaning ❛delighted❜, ❛very pleased❜ or even ❛thrilled❜, this English idiom is typically found in sentences like the following:
When she won the award for best supporting actress, Octavia was tickled pink.
The young child was tickled pink when he saw the new toy.
I am tickled pink to be here today.
There are many things that can tickle you pink, i.e. make you feel very happy or delight you. Look at the following headlines to see some examples:
Tickled pink! Uma Thurman expecting baby girl
- articles. nydailynews.com, 7 March 2012, Cristina Everett
Serena Williams tickled pink to be back
- smh.com.au, 13 April 2011, AFP
Lottery Win: Euromillions couple are ❛tickled pink❜
- bbc.co.uk, 15 July 2012, BBC
In these headlines, Uma Thurman, Serena Williams and a Scottish couple are tickled pink for various reasons - a new baby, a return to competitive tennis and a lottery win. What would make you feel tickled pink?