Sports Idioms Used in Business English

Sports and business have a lot in common. They both take hard work, are very competitive, and can lead to big successes or failures. It is not surprising that many sports idioms are used in daily American culture and also in business.

An idiom is an expression that is not literal. Therefore, if you don’t know the idiom, it may be hard to understand what someone meant. Studying idioms is an important part of becoming fluent in English.

Here are a couple examples:

1. Front runner

front runner.jpg

The front runner (as you may be able to guess) is the athlete who is in the lead during a race. This person is in front, but hasn’t won yet. A front runner means the favorite or the person who is considered most likely to get or win something.

“I’ve applied for that new management position. Do you think I will get the job?”

“Between you and me, your chances are very good. You are the front runner. Tim applied, too, but he doesn’t have a chance.”

2. The ball is in your court

court.jpg

In tennis, when the ball is on your side of the court, it is your turn to hit the ball. This is used to mean that it is someone’s turn to take action or make the next move.

“Google wants to buy the app I developed and they will pay me a lot of money. But I think if I keep it, I may be able to make even more money later on. Do you have any advice?”

“I don’t know, Tim. The ball is totally in your court on this one!”

“Just an Old, Sweet Song, Keeps Georgia on My Mind”

Not every state in the U.S. has its own official song. However, Georgia has an official State Song, and that song has an incredible history.

In 1930, Hoagy Carmichael (music) and Stuart Gorrell (lyrics) created a song  about Hoagy’s sister. Her name was “Georgia.” (Let’s not forget that before the state of Georgia, the word “Georgia” was commonly used as a woman’s name. It is a feminine form of the name “George.”) The name of the song was “Georgia on my Mind.”

In other words, Stuart Gorrell was in LOVE with Georgia Carmichael and wrote a song about how he was always thinking about her.

However, it was another man – a musical genius and legend named Ray Charles – who made the song very famous in 1960 when he recorded it. Ray Charles was born in the state of Georgia and many people actually thought he wrote the song. As a result, there has been a common belief that the song is about the STATE of Georgia, not a person named Georgia Carmichael.

For many years, Ray Charles did not perform concerts in Georgia because of the racial discrimination there. However, things improved enough that by 1979, Ray Charles began performing there again, and even sang the song “Georgia on my Mind” before the members of the Georgia General Assembly (the main legislative/governmental body in the state).

Shortly after, the General Assembly voted to make “Georgia on my Mind” the state song of Georgia. It is a beautiful song and we hope you will listen to it! Here is the original video of Ray Charles singing it to the General Assembly.

 

A Few Valentine’s Day (Love) Idioms

The holiday of Valentine’s Day has its first origins going back at least 1,500 years. Originally the holiday honored one or two Catholic saints named Valentine. Today, however, the holiday is associated with romantic love and is celebrated in many countries. (In the US, like the rest of the world, it is not an official federal or state holiday where many people have the day off work.) The holiday is traditionally celebrated on February 14 (that is my mom’s birthday and her middle name is Val!)

Unsurprisingly, there are many idioms, expressions, and phrasal verbs associated with love in English. Here are a few which might help you out, especially on Valentine’s Day!

lovin

ask out (on a date) – to ask somebody out  (or ask out somebody) is to ask them to go on a date with you, as a possible way of starting a romantic relationship with them.

Example: He is too scared to ask her out.

 

chat up – to chat up somebody (or chat somebody up) is to talk to them in a flirtatious way to show you are attracted to them, and to try and make them interested in you.

British and Australian informal English.

Example: I’ve been trying to chat him up all evening but he’s not interested.

 

cuddle up – to cuddle up with someone is to sit or lie very close them in an affectionate way.

Example: I love cuddling up with my husband.

 

eat out – to eat out  is to eat away from home, at a cafe or restaurant. Many people eat out at a restaurant on Valentine’s Day.

Example: Let’s eat out tonight. I know a very good restaurant.

fall

fall for – if you fall for someone you become very attracted to them, or fall in love with them.

Informal English.

Example: She fell for him as soon as she saw him.

 

get together – if people get together they start a romantic relationship.

Example: They got together in 2001 when they were working in Paris.

 

go out together / with – to go out with someone is to have a romantic relationship with them.

Examples:

1. Will you go out with me?

2. They have been going out together for six months.

 

live for – if you live for somebody they are the most important thing in your life.

Example: Marcus lives for his wife: he will do anything for her.

 

move in together / with – to move in together is to start living with someone – usually someone you are having a romantic relationship with.

Example: We’re moving in together in June.

 

 

pour out – if you pour out your feelings to someone you tell them everything about how you are feeling. (Also: “Pour your heart out.”)

Example: She poured out her feelings and told him how much she loved him.

 

run off with – to run off with somebody is to secretly go away with someone in order to live with them or marry them, especially when other people think this is wrong. Often used to show disapproval.

Informal English.

Example: They were only 17 years old when they ran off with each other.

 

settle down – when two people settle down together they set up a life together and perhaps get married, buy a house and start a family.

Example:

Peter and Marcia are settling down and buying a house together.

 

a heart-throb – a heart-throb is a good looking man; usually someone famous who is attractive to very many women.

Informal English

Examples:

1. In my opinion, George Clooney is a heart-throb; but Justin Bieber is not!

2. Many women think the actor Brad Pitt is a heart-throb.

 

a broken heart –  a broken heart (noun) is a feeling of great sadness and despair, especially when someone you love dies or does not love you.

Examples:

1. They broke up last week and she is broken-hearted. (broken hearted = adjective)

2. Three weeks after our grandmother died, our grandfather died of a broken heart

3. His heart is broken because she doesn’t love him anymore.

 

a heart-to-heart – a heart-to-heart talk (noun) is a completely open and honest private discussion between two people.

Example

We had a heart-to-heart talk last night to try and work out our problems.

 

wear your heart on your sleeve – if you wear your heart on your sleeve you are very open about your feelings for someone, and everyone can see how you are feeling.

loves.jpg

 

fall head over heels in love – to fall head over heels in love with someone is to fall in love with them very suddenly, and with great intensity.

Example: I met my husband at university and fell head over heels in love with him on our first date.

 

lovebirds – if two people are clearly very much in love with each other they are often called ‘the lovebirds’. Lovebirds are small parrots that are well known for showing great affection to their mates.

 

puppy love – puppy love is the love or romantic feelings felt for someone by children or young adolescents. Often used in a negative or derogatory way.

Example: It’s only puppy love. They will soon forget about it.

 

How Americans Wish Each Other Happy Holidays (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc.)

Over 70% of the American population identifies itself as Christian. Therefore, there is a strong cultural tradition in the U.S. of Christians (and even some non-Christians) saying “Merry Christmas” to others during and around Christmas time (December 25). This may extend even into the New Year holiday, and some people may say “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!”

Image result for happy holidays

However, over the years the United States has become more diverse, with citizens and residents practicing all the world’s religions. Also, there have been non-Christian communities in the US for a long time, such as Jews from Europe, and Buddhists, Taoists, and Confucians from China.

Image result for christmas merry santa    Image result for hanukkah

Usually some time in December, there is a Jewish holiday called “Hanukkah” which arguably started over 2,100 years ago. There is also an increasingly popular American holiday celebrated by some African-Americans called “Kwanzaa” from December 26 – January 1. It celebrates different moral principles from African cultures and religions.

Image result for kwanzaa

Because of the great diversity of religions and cultures we can find in America today, as well as the various holidays different Americans celebrate, some Americans today choose not to say “Merry Christmas.” In order to include everyone, they might just say, “Happy Holidays!” It is good to be respectful of people’s unique backgrounds but it is probably also true that when people say “Merry Christmas,” they are really just trying to be friendly and because they are excited about the holiday and special time of year.

Whatever you celebrate (or maybe you celebrate none of these holidays!), we hope you have a great winter and hope you’ll come learn more about American culture at our school!

Halloween: What does it mean to “go trick-or-treating”?

Halloween is one of the most beloved of American holidays for children and many adults alike. It is officially October 31 every year. However, in recent years, the custom of going from house to house to collect candy has sometimes been moved to a different night (e.g. October 30, November 1, etc.) for different reasons.

Candy or sweets can be called “treats.” At each house, the child in a costume knocks on the door and, when the door is opened, the child often says “trick or treat!” Or they may say: “trick or treat, trick or treat, give me something good to eat!” We also call the action of going from house to house “trick-or-treating.”

The meaning of the phrase “trick or treat” is actually kind of a threat! It means if the child does not receive candy, he or she will play some kind of trick on the people. Actually, the child (normally) has no plans to do anything bad or play any tricks if they don’t get candy — it is just a fun expression. However, some people do not provide candy to children and may simply choose not to answer their door.

If you are living in America, we do encourage you to buy candy ahead of time and plan to answer your door and give a couple pieces of candy to each child. It is a fun part of American culture!

SHAKESPEARE INVENTED & PRESERVED THOUSANDS OF ENGLISH PHRASES

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) is one of the most famous and influential English writers. He wrote dozens of plays and poems. But he also introduced thousands of words and phrases into the English language which are still popular today. However, today many people believe that Shakespeare may not have invented some of these words and phrases, but rather his works are the first time the words were actually written down. This does not discount the fact, however, that Shakespeare was a master of English and a huge influence on the language lasting until today.

Below are many phrases from Shakespeare. Below that list are many words we got from Shakespeare. Have a question about any of them? Just ask us!!

Phrases from Shakespeare we still use in everyday communication

  • “It’s Greek to me” (Julius Caesar) – When you say, “it’s Greek to me” you are admitting that you do not know or understand something.
  • “Fair play” (The Tempest) – Follow the rules, especially in competitions or sports.
  • “All that glitters isn’t gold” (Merchant of Venice) – We usually use this phrase after we discover the fact that something that looks good turns out not to be that great.
  • “Wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve” (Othello) – To be a hopeless romantic (or be open and honest about how you feel) is to wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve.
  • “Break the ice” (The Taming of the Shrew) – Often when you meet someone for the first time, you “break the ice” by asking them polite questions about themselves.
  • “The lady doth protest too much” (Hamlet) – If someone denies something more than once, you can say “the lady doth protest too much,” meaning you think that they feel the opposite to what they are saying.
  • “Clothes make the man” (Hamlet) – Although not always true, this phrase implies that how a person dresses tells you something about who they are as a person.
  • “A laughing stock” (The Merry Wives of Windsor) – To be a laughing stock is to be considered a joke by many people.
  • “Too much of a good thing” (As You Like It) – It is said that “too much of a good thing” (i.e. money, love, food) is not necessarily good for you.
  • “In a pickle” (The Tempest) – To be “in a pickle” is to be in trouble or a situation that you cannot easily get out of.

More Phrases

“All our yesterdays”— (Macbeth)

“As good luck would have it” — (The Merry Wives of Windsor)

“As merry as the day is long” — (Much Ado About Nothing / King John)

“Bated breath” — (The Merchant of Venice)

“Be-all and the end-all” — (Macbeth)

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be” — (Hamlet)

“Brave new world” — (The Tempest)

“Break the ice” — (The Taming of the Shrew)

“Brevity is the soul of wit” — (Hamlet)

“Refuse to budge an inch” — (Measure for Measure / The Taming of the Shrew)

“Cold comfort” — (The Taming of the Shrew / King John)

“Conscience does make cowards of us all” — (Hamlet)

“Crack of doom” — (Macbeth)

“Dead as a doornail” — (Henry VI Part II)

“A dish fit for the gods” — (Julius Caesar)

“Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war” — (Julius Caesar)

“Devil incarnate” — (Titus Andronicus / Henry V)

“Eaten me out of house and home” — (Henry IV Part II)

“Faint hearted” — (Henry VI Part I)

“Fancy-free” — (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

“Forever and a day” — (As You Like It)

“For goodness’ sake” — (Henry VIII)

“Foregone conclusion” — (Othello)

“Full circle” — (King Lear)

“The game is afoot” — (Henry IV Part I)

“Give the devil his due” — (Henry IV Part I)

“Good riddance” — (Troilus and Cressida)

“Jealousy is the green-eyed monster” — (Othello)

“Heart of gold” — (Henry V)

“Hoist with his own petard” — (Hamlet)

“Ill wind which blows no man to good” — (Henry IV Part II)

“In my heart of hearts” — (Hamlet)

“In my mind’s eye” — (Hamlet)

“Kill with kindness” — (The Taming of the Shrew)

“Knock knock! Who’s there?” — (Macbeth)

“Laughing stock” — (The Merry Wives of Windsor)

“Live long day” — (Julius Caesar)

“Love is blind” — (The Merchant of Venice)

“Milk of human kindness” — (Macbeth)

“More sinned against than sinning” — (King Lear)

“One fell swoop” — (Macbeth)

“Play fast and loose” — (King John)

“Set my teeth on edge” — (Henry IV Part I)

“Wear my heart upon my sleeve” — (Othello)

“Wild-goose chase” — (Romeo and Juliet)

Words that come from Shakespeare

Here are some common words that first appeared in Shakespeare’s plays and their meanings:

Auspicious – favorable; promising success; a good omen. A wedding is an example of an auspicious occasion.

Baseless – without a foundation; not based on fact. If you accuse someone of wrongdoing, make sure that you have support to back up your claim and it is not a baseless accusation.

Barefaced – shameless; without concealment or disguise. When someone tells a ‘barefaced lie’ it is not a very good one and you immediately know it is not true.

Castigate – to punish harshly. Sometimes celebrities and politicians are castigated in the press more harshly than ordinary citizens.

Clangor – a loud (clanging) sound. Ghosts are sometimes said to be followed by the loud clangor of chains.

Dexterously – skillful, especially in the use of one’s hands (or also one’s mind). A good carpenter can dexterously build a bookshelf very easily.

Dwindle – to get smaller; diminish. Often used to describe money. Many people’s savings dwindle after losing a job.

Multitudinous – a lot; a great number. You are in luck if you can say that you have a multitudinous amount of friends.

Sanctimonious – pretending to be very religious or righteous. Sometimes people who judge others harshly are sanctimonious.

Watchdog – a person or group that keeps close watch to discover wrong or illegal activity. A popular watchdog group is PETA, which exposes wrongful actions against animals.

Business Idioms are Fun and Useful

English is well-known for being a very idiomatic language with lots of old expressions and new ones being born all the time.

Let’s take two quick examples and at the bottom we’ll provide links to some good sites.

Cash cow: A cash cow is a product which has a low investment cost for the company but easily brings in a lot of money. Sometimes people say slot machines at casinos are a type of cash cow.

Go back to square one: This is an expression which means to start over from the beginning. Example: After weeks of negotiations everything fell apart and we couldn’t come to an agreement. We’ll just have to go back to square one.

There are many business idiom sites out there. All of these looked good to us:

http://www.idiomconnection.com/business.html (has free quizzes too)

http://www.businessenglishresources.com/31-2/student-section/business-vocabulary/most-common-business-idioms/

http://www.learn-english-today.com/idioms/idiom-categories/business-work/bus-work1-ace-bricks.html