Do you really believe that this country is going to the dogs?
Since he starred in The Wizard of Oz, the actor’s career has gone to the dogs.
It seems that the company’s reputation has gone to the dogs.
In all three of these sample sentences, something - a country, a career or a reputation - has been damaged and become worse in some way or another.
The following video shows a special education program for children with special needs and disabilities in a Canadian secondary school. The title of the video is entitled Education goes to the dogs, a title that plays with the literal as well as figurative meaning of the English idiom to go to the dogs.
Have you been at a loss lately? If you have, something has ❛perplexed or puzzled❜ you and/or even left you ❛uncertain about what you should say or do❜. To see how the English idiom to be at a loss can be used, check out the following example:
Bashir was at a loss when he heard about his wife’s plan to open a Scottish restaurant.
In this sentence, Bashir is ❛confused and speechless❜ about his wife’s new business plan, i.e. he is at a loss.
Some recent headlines that have included the English idiom to be at a loss are:
Putin ❛at a loss❜ after Bethlehem street named for him
- ca.news.yahoo.com, 26 June 2012, AFP
EU at a loss over Syria
- dw.de, 25 June 2012, Christoph Hasselbach
Euro 2012: Germany’s Mats Hummels at a loss to explain England’s failings on world stage
- telegraph.co.uk, 21 June 2012, Chris Bascombe
The European solar panel industry is on the rocks.
Who would have thought that Judy’s marriage was on the rocks?
Is the Euro on the rocks?
Some recent news headlines / publications that have used the expression on the rocks are:
Are Canada-US relations on the rocks?
- the star.com, 26 June 2012, Mitch Potter
Johnny Depp’s Love is on the Rocks
- express.co.uk, 20 June 2012, Lizzie Catt, Lisa Higgins & Jack Teague
Greeks and Germans at Polar Opposites: European Unity on the Rocks
- pewglobal.org, 29 May 2012
Yann M’Vila’s move to Arsenal on the rocks following France Euro 2012 spat
- metro.co.uk, 26 June 2012, Jamie Sanderson
Can you think of an industry that is currently on the rocks?
If someone or something comes out of the woodwork, he/she or it ❛appears after having been hidden, unknown or inactive for a long time❜. For example:
Since his death, many Michael Jackson fans have come out of the woodwork.
This sentence means that many of the singer’s fans, who, perhaps, had not listened to much of his music throughout the years prior to his death, have come out and publicly acknowledged their liking of Michael Jackson music, i.e. they have come out of the woodwork.
The following headlines/blog titles also contain the English idiom to come out of the woodwork:
DiManno: Post-Diamond Jubilee, anti-monarchists and uber-monarchists come out of woodwork
- the star.com, 6 June 2012, Rosie DiManno
Manchester City fans coming ❛out of the woodwork❜ says Rio Ferdinand
- idependent.co.uk, 23 March 2012, PA
Artists Coming Out of the Woodwork: Éva Jospin
- en.paris-lifestyle.fr, Thomas jean
The boxer set his sights on the world heavyweight championship.
The company set its sights on entering the Asian market.
Two local swimmers have set their sights on the Olympic Games.
The video below shows how daredevil Nik Wellenda set his sights on tightrope-walking across Niagara Falls, a feat that he later accomplished on 15 June 2012.
The English idiom to get cracking means ❛to start working❜. For example:
There is no use standing around talking about what we want to do. Let’s get cracking!
Instead of ❛Let’s get cracking!❜, one could have also said ❛Let’s get to work!❜. The following articles/blog posts all contain the idiom to get cracking in their titles:
Get cracking on that list of things to organize
- miamiherald.com, 22 January 2012, Mary Beth Breckenridge, Akron Beacon Journal
Get Cracking on Innovative Tax Reform
- jamaica-gleaner.com, 23 January 2012, Garth A. Rattray
Let’s Get Cracking: How toMake an Omelet
- artofmaniliness.com, 31 January 2012, Matt Moore
Due to the fact that you have to ❛crack ❜ an egg to open it, you often see the English idiom to get cracking in connection with eggs or egg products. Thus, the title of the last article above ❛Let’s Get Cracking: How to Make an Omelet❜, in which ❛Let’s Get Cracking❜ has a double meaning.
a) I am in a bind.
b) I am in a fix.
c) I am in a mess.
d) I am in a pickle.
e) I am in a predicament.
f) I am in a jam.
Click here to view the correct answer.
Student: I did my homework, but my dog ate it.
Teacher: Tell me the truth, Robert. Honesty is the best policy.
Jane: How do I look in my new dress, Fred? Tell me the truth.
Fred: You look beautiful, dear.
(Sometimes, honesty is not the best policy)
Here is a humorous Canadian television commercial from expedia.ca that uses the English proverb honesty is the best policy:
In the course of a lifetime, you will hear many stories. Which of the following stories is ❛a sad story that will likely make you cry❜?
a) a tall story
b) a shaggy dog story
c) a fish story
d) a sob story
e) a likely story
To find out which of the English idioms above refers to a sad story that will likely make you cry, click here.
The teacher is never angry when Albert forgets to do his homework. He is the teacher’s pet.
Because the teacher’s pet is liked best by the teacher, he is often treated better than the other students, which may cause some jealousy or resentment. Thus, while the expression teacher’s pet can be used in a positive way, it can also be quite negative.
But why does a certain student become the teacher’s pet? What qualities does a teacher’s pet usually have? In the following video, a group of Canadian school children are asked why they are the teacher’s pets. Their answers are quite funny.
However, what does to blow a fuse mean in the idiomatic or figurative sense? Here’s a clue: it means the same thing as ❛to flip one’s lid❜, ❛ to hit the ceiling❜ and ❛to fly off the handle❜. Now, do you know what this English idiom means?
A synonym for ❛to lose one’s temper❜, the expression to blow a fuse means ❛to become very angry❜. For example:
When Lucinda found out how much her husband had spent on his Portuguese stamp collection, she blew a fuse.
Below, you will find a selection of English idioms that all contain the word ❛short❜. Which idiom means ❛to come away with less than you deserve or what is deemed fair in a deal or contest❜?
a) to cut someone or something short
b) to get the short end of the stick
c) to make a long story short
d) to sell someone or something short
e) to stop short of something
For the correct answer, click here.
a) It takes two to tango.
b) It takes two to rumba.
c) It takes two to polka.
d) It takes two to samba.
Click here for the correct answer.
No more Mr. Nice Guy is an English expression that is used to refer to someone who is no longer going to be friendly, agreeable and accommodating to achieve his goals❜. It can be used in the following way:
A: I have had enough of my co-workers’ constant demands.
B: What do you mean?
A: I have been trying to please them for years and they still aren’t happy. From now on, I am doing what I want. No more Mr. Nice Guy!
The English idiom No more Mr. Nice Guy implies that the speaker is now going to take a tougher approach to how he does things. In other words, he won’t be the ❛nice guy❜ that everyone, perhaps, thinks he is. No more Mr. Nice Guy can be further exemplified in the following recent articles:
Barack Obama: No More Mr. Nice Guy
- www2.mcleans.ca, 8 June 2012, Luiza Ch. Savage
❛No More Mr. Nice Guy’ - Why You Should Think Twice Before Co-Signing a Loan
- www.huffingtonpost.com, 7 June 2012, Jeanne Kelly
Bill Clinton is Back and it’s No More Mr. Nice Guy
- townhall.com, 8 June 2012, Donald Lambro
❛How does that grab you?❜ means...
a) Are you well?
b) Are you comfortable?
c) Would you like more?
d) What do you think of that?
Click here for the correct definition of ❛How does that grab you?❜.
A: How is Muriel? Has she recovered from her operation?
B: Thankfully, she is on the mend and should be back at work next week.
Good synonyms for to be on the mend are ❛to get better❜ or ❛to improve❜. Two recent headlines that demonstrate the meaning of to be on the mend quite well are the following:
Prince Philip ❛on the mend❜ as Queen visits hospital
- scotsman.com, 7 June 2012
US jobless claims fall, labor market still on mend
- in.reuters.com, 7 June 2012,
The following video is a news report about a man who is on the mend after a shark attack:
With a current market share of 48.6%, the company has cornered the smartphone market.
Has China cornered the solar panel market?
German brands have cornered the luxury automobile market.
In other words, when a company corners the market, it ❛dominates❜ it.
The following video from 2009, which is entitled ❛Convenience Store Corners the Market❜, shows how a well-known convenience store has cornered the market in the United States.
Fernando and Florence are at loggerheads.
To be at loggerheads means...
a) to be relatives
b) to be good friends
c) to be married
d) to be in a quarrel
For the correct answer and some good examples, click here.
The English idiom to talk shop means ❛to talk about business, particularly in a non-work environment❜. For example:
A: Ted and Sue came to our party last night, but they didn’t speak to anyone.
B. What did they do all night?
A. They stood at the bar and talked shop.
B. As if there isn’t anything more interesting to talk about than that!
As the dialogue above confirms, it is often considered impolite to talk shop at social events. At the very least, talking shop is considered to be boring. However, when you consider how much time we spend in the workplace, it does seem rather natural to talk about what we do every day, doesn’t it?
For some further examples of how the English idiom to talk shop can be used, have a look at these two recent articles :
Putin Welcomes Kissinger: ❛Old Friends❜ to talk Shop
- nytimes.com, 19 January 2012, Ellen Barry
African American Engineers Convene in Pittsburgh to Talk Shop, Promote Their Field
- imaginepittsburghnow.com, 28 March 2012, Bonnie Pfister