Idioms

Vocabulary found in this blog

  • derive (verb) obtain something from (a specified source).
  • literally (adverb) in a literal manner or sense; exactly.
  • literal (adj) taking words in their usual or most basic sense without metaphor or exaggeration.
  • context (noun) the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood.
  • manoeuvre (noun) a movement or series of moves requiring skill and care.
  • relieve (verb) cause (pain, distress, or difficulty) to become less severe or serious.
  • crucial (adj) decisive or critical, especially in the success or failure of something.

 

Why is it so important to learn idioms?

Idioms are used every day. They’re so common that native speakers are unaware that they’re using them. Due to this, it is crucial to learn idioms in order to excel in conversation. So, you’re probably wondering – what is an idiom?

Idioms are words, expressions or phrases that are not meant to be taken literally. The meaning of an idiom cannot be derived from the exact words. Instead, they have hidden meanings. This blog will give you a handful of idiom examples. So, let’s begin.

 

‘Break the ice’

This is an example from Shakespeare, which we use frequently today. First introduced in The Taming of the Shrew, ‘to break the ice’ means to relieve tension by getting to know someone, usually by starting a conversation. In Shakespeare’s play, Tranio encourages Petruchio to ‘break the ice’ with Katherine, suggesting that he should get to know her. Here’s another example from Friends. 

 

Friends, 2002

 

‘Blessing in disguise’

Martha: I was fired from my job.

John: I’m sorry.

Martha: Don’t be, I hated that job, it was a blessing in disguise.

 

If something is a ‘blessing in disguise’ it is something that, at first, seems bad but results in something good happening later. So in this context Martha has been fired from her job (which is the unlucky, bad thing that happened) but as she disliked her job anyway she is relieved to not be working there. Martha’s relief is the good thing that happened later.

 

‘Under the weather’

If somebody feels ‘under the weather’ then they feel unwell or are sick. This is a very old idiom, dating back to when sailors would become seasick or fall ill due to the weather. When this happened the sailor would be sent below deck which was under the weather rail. The idiom, therefore, originated here, shortening under the weather rail to ‘under the weather’. Here’s an example in a context:

 

Max: I’m not coming into work today.

Susan: Is everything OK?

Max: I’m feeling under the weather.

Susan: I hope you get better soon.

Max: Thanks. I’ll hopefully be back at work tomorrow.

 

‘Third wheel’

‘When Brian invited me to go to the cinema, I didn’t know his girlfriend would be joining us. I felt like a third wheel the whole evening.’

Maybe you’ve experienced this before. A friend of yours invites you do something (in this case going to the cinema) but their partner comes along. You might call this feeling like a ‘third wheel’.

 

The Big Bang Theory, 2007

 

‘Road Rage’

This is another very commonly used idiom. If someone has ‘road rage’ it means they are extremely angry or violent when driving an automobile. This often has negative affects resulting in dangerous manoeuvres or difficult driving conditions. Here’s an sentence example: ‘On my way home I had such road rage that I needed to pull over to calm down.’ In this example the speaker has stopped themselves from causing any damage by pulling over and calming down.

 

Conclusion

There are so many idioms in the English language. We have food idioms, animal idioms and idioms that include body parts. We have weather idioms, idioms that are commonly used in business situation, idioms about conflict and happiness, idioms to describe love or loss. The range of idioms in English is so vast that we couldn’t cover them all in this blog. But, fear not! That’s where the Intrepid English Academy course ‘Essential English Idioms‘ comes in.

The  ‘Essential English Idioms‘ course not only explores what an idiom is but it also explains how to use them. You will be taken through different categories of idioms with lots of examples. The course is packed with clips from movies and TV shows to show you how to use them in everyday life. You will learn the context and the meaning but, more importantly, you will become so familiar with idioms that it’ll be easy to notice new idioms in conversation and have a much better chance of understanding their meanings.

Show Me More!

Quiz

Match the idiom to its definition.

1. ‘It was a blessing in disguise.’

a) it was a disaster

b) it turned out to be horrible

c) it turned out to be a good thing

d) it was what I expected

 

2. ‘We need to break the ice.’

a) we need to begin

b) we need to say something

c) we need to leave

d) we need to have dinner

 

3. ‘I’m feeling under the weather today.

a) I feel extremely angry

b) I feel hungry

c) I feel unwell

d) I’m not very hungry

 

4. ‘Don’t get in a car with him, he has terrible road rage.’

a) He’s a bad driver

b) He’s a good driver

c) He’s an angry person

d) He gets angry when he drives a car

 

5. ‘I felt like a third wheel all day.’

a) I felt like I shouldn’t be there

b) I felt welcomed

c) It was a lot of fun

d) I hated it

 

Post your answers in the comments below. If you have any questions, or you would like to request a topic for a future blog, you can contact us here or email us at Intrepid English.

This blog was written by Intrepid English teacher, Tom. 

If you have any questions, or you would like to request a topic for a future blog, you can contact us here or email us at Intrepid English.

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