Hot July Idioms!

The month of July is just around the corner and things are only going to get hotter here in Atlanta! Here are a couple English idioms (expressions) which relate to the July heat (and also refer to the winter cold, which is the opposite).

“A cold day in July”

hotcold

A cold day in July is almost impossible in the United States, especially if you live in the southern states. This idiom is used when we think something is pretty much impossible.

“It’ll be a cold day in July before my boss gives me the raise I want!”

 

Christmas in July”

As you may know, many Americans celebrate Christmas and buy many gifts for their friends and family. But sometimes you might get many gifts at another time, for example your birthday. If you get many gifts or money at another time of the year, you might say “it was like Christmas in July.” Yes, you can say this even when it isn’t exactly July!

What does “the lion’s share” mean?

“The lion’s share” is an expression that means most of or the majority (but not all).

It is a somewhat formal expression suitable for workplace and academic writings and presentations.

Examples:

“The eldest son received the lion’s share of the inheritance.”

“Without a doubt, Kathleen, who has served as my advisor over these past five years, deserves the lion’s share of my gratitude.”

lion

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.

When do you get a second wind? More idioms from sports

Last week we discussed how many English idioms come from sports (. This week’s idiom — “getting a second wind” — is originally from sailing but many people today use it in connection to running.

A “second wind” was an extra wind for a sailboat that helped to win a sailing race. However, today, most people associate this idiom with RUNNING. This is because, after getting tired in the middle of a race, many racers see (or think about) the finish line and it BOOSTS their MOTIVATION and energy. Even though they have been running for a long distance and are tired, they suddenly find the energy to run as fast as they can to the finish line.

But we can also use this idiom today for any activity or situation in which you became tired but then found the strength to push on and finish up STRONG.

Example: I worked a huge 55-hour work week and by Friday night when I got home I was EXHAUSTED. But after eating a good dinner, I got a second wind and was able to clean up my entire house.”

What does it mean to be “mad as a March hare?”

We are already into the month of March! Before you know it, the weather will be sunny and beautiful again here in Duluth, just outside the city of Atlanta, Georgia.

Next week, we also start a new session of English classes. Good things are happening!

There is an expression in English — it is not necessarily very common — but it is funny, which goes: mad as a March hare. This expression may be 500 years old or even older. In this case, mad doesn’t mean “angry.” It means, silly, crazy, wild, ridiculous. 

Now, what is a March hare? A hare is a wild animal very similar in appearance to a rabbit.

This is a hare:

In March, the weather is warming up and hares become more active socially, physically, etc.. In England, the frantic behavior of hares in the early spring led to the expression “mad as a March hare,” and we can apply this expression to a person to indicate that they are acting extremely silly, ridiculous, or insane. Someone who is mad as a March hare might look like this:

Of course, in the U.S., use of phrases and idioms is extremely common in everyday speech. So, if you have a friend who is being strange or absurd, it’s okay to ask them: “You are mad as a March hare, aren’t you?

What is a “Snow Day?” What is “snowed in?”

snow angelToday we’ll present to you two idiomatic phrases. They both deal with snow. In southern United States (which don’t get so cold like northern states, e.g., New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts,etc.) there is still often some snow in the winter. Because the southern states don’t get a lot of snow, however, they might not spend the money on equipment to clear snow from the roads. In short, when there’s snow in the south – especially Georgia where CCB School is located – snow usually means A SNOW DAY!! And that means, NO SCHOOL!!

So far, there had not been a snow day in the Atlanta area this year, but many schools were closed today (actually, that was because of the holiday President’s Day) and more may be closed tomorrow. Many young people are anxiously watching to see if they can have some extra time away from school to play in the snow!

To be “snowed in” means that there is so much snow that people can’t leave their house. Or at the least, they cannot make it to work or really go anywhere. It is still an opportunity to play outside, throw snowballs at each other, build a snowman, and more.

Maybe even some of our students want a snow day! (No way! They are very serious about becoming experts in English and always love to come to school!) But if you are curious whether or not we have class, we always follow Gwinnett County’s decision. This information can always be found here:  http://www.wsbtv.com/school-closings/search/

Whatever happens, have a great day!

Idioms to be Thankful for, Turkey!

Just in time for Thanksgiving, here are three funny English idioms which use the word “turkey.”

talk turkey: Now that we bought this new house we need to talk turkey. It is going to be a lot more expensive and we may need to cut back on other things.    (to discuss a serious matter, to talk business)

go cold turkey: Quitting smoking is difficult. I suggest you just go for it and do it cold turkey. Make that your last cigarette!    (to give up or stop doing something abruptly)

to be a turkey: Who is the turkey that left the coca-cola in the freezer? It exploded and left a mess all over the place!    (to be an idiot or fool)

Have a great holiday!!!