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!
If you hear something “through the grapevine” it means that you have heard a rumor about someone or something. If you use this expression, it also helps you protect the name/identity of the person who told you the rumor.
Have you heard something through the grapevine recently?
-David: I heard it through the grapevine that you are looking for another job. Is it true?
-Bob: Wow, how did you know that? I only told a few people. But yes, it’s true. Please don’t tell anyone else.
You can also say “I heard it on the grapevine.”
A similar idiom: “A little bird told me.”
We didn’t write these, but we totally agree. A great resource! If you have questions about English – grammar, slang, idioms, etc., please let us know. We are happy to help.
America is a very big country with a large, diverse population. That means we have all kinds of sports. As you probably know, there are many expressions used in sports. Sometimes, these expressions start to be used in everyday life.
For example, “down for the count” comes from the sport of boxing. When a boxer is knocked down, he has ten seconds to stand up again. When he is down, he is “down for the count.”
Today, we may say someone or a company is “down for the count” because of a setback or a small failure. But that doesn’t mean they are “out” yet. A fighter who is knocked down may still stand up and win the fight. Likewise, a businessman or company can lose some money or some deals but over a long time still be very successful.
Are you interested in a full list of sports idioms you can use outside of sports?
Wikipedia has a full entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sports_idioms
Or just search around online!
It’s that time of year again here in Atlanta where the weather turns very cold and we even get some snow (usually in January or February). There are a lot of idioms in English related to the snow and winter. Below are just a few you might enjoy. If you want to learn even more, come study at our accredited ESL school!
snowball’s chance in hell – to be very unlikely to succeed at something
ex: The little boat had a snowball’s chance in hell of surviving the storm.
dead of winter – the coldest, darkest part of winter
ex: It feels like the dead of winter out there.
to be on thin ice – to be in a risky situation
ex: If you keep asking him about his ex-girlfriend, you’ll be on thin ice. He’ll probably start yelling at you.
pure as the driven snow – to be innocent and chaste (frequently used ironically)
ex: Madonna isn’t exactly pure as the driven snow, but the book she wrote is excellent!
to break the ice – to create a more friendly and relaxed atmosphere
ex: Alexandra is great at breaking the ice, she always knows what to say to people.
to run hot and cold – to be unable to make up one’s mind
ex: David’s feelings about Lisa run hot and cold; one minute he loves her, and the next, he’s bored of her.
Using the phrase “up to it” or “up for it” can be used to express whether or not you want to do something.
A: “I want to talk about our finances tonight. Do you feel up to it?”
B: “No, I’ve had a really rough day. I just don’t feel up for that.”
A: “Do you feel up for going to the movies tonight?”
B: “Yes, I’d be up for that.”
Now you try using this expression with your friends!! Are you UP FOR THAT??