Fun With Idioms

I have always loved language – words, definitions, concepts, inferences – could be why I like to write. I think that the history of words and how words have evolved is fascinating. But there is nothing more fascinating than idioms – at least to me.

As a child, I imagined actual cats and dogs raining down from the sky. Worried that if I got sick a frog would hop into my throat and talk for me. Thought a giant cherry pie in the sky would be the most delicious of weather patterns. And worried about the shit hitting the fan and how many baths I’d need to take after the debacle.

Some other favorites:

1. Laughing my ass off. (I love this because the image of a person laughing so hard that their ass actually falls off is hilarious. Imagine the work involved in getting that puppy back on.)

2. Chip on your shoulder. (My mom used to use this one and I always envisioned a giant chocolate chip – Hershey’s semi-sweet to be exact – living on my shoulder that I could nibble on throughout the day. And I thought this would be divine, especially if it didn’t melt.)

3. Cute as a bug’s ear. (Correct me if I’m wrong but do bugs actually have ears. And if they do, I can’t imagine they’d be cute at all. They’d probably be creepy crawler and have poisonous venom in them which would make you go blind or something.)

4. Dead ringer. (Is this a doorbell that doesn’t work? A silent phone? That twirly thing in the washing machine that just won’t work?)

5. Balls to the wall. (I always believed it was a reference to illicit sex while standing up. However, I learned that it’s a pilot’s slang term. Hmmm, is that about the Mile High Club?)

6. Play by ear. (Now wouldn’t it be hard to bang your ear against the instrument? How in the heck would you read the music?)

7. Straight from the horse’s mouth. (Can you say Mr. Ed?)

8. Cold turkey. (Yuck, nothing worse than eating cold turkey – so greasy and slimey.)

9. Nose for news. (Imagine a giant nose interviewing dignitaries and celebrities. Now that is something I’d pay money to see.)

10. You don’t say. (Well yes, as a matter of fact, I do say!)

Those are some of my favorites, what are yours?


35 thoughts on “Fun With Idioms

  1. Australian idoms:
    A stubby short of six-pack.
    You’ve got tickets on yourself.
    Getting the rough end of the pineapple.
    Don’t come the raw prawn with me.
    Full as a goog!

    Translations please. Except for the rough end of the pineapple, I think I can figure that one out. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You ask m..about playing by ear he can do it πŸ˜‰

    Given the boy’s propensity for talent, I’m not surprised.


  3. Drunk as a skunk …Have you ever seen a drunk skunk ? Wake the Dead ?

    Yeah, when was the last time you saw any animule drunk? And wake the dead I think has its roots in Celtic folklore – but what an image!


  4. Nose for news sounds Like Geraldo Rivera

    Ah yes, good ol’ Gerry Rivers – he’s got the nose to be sure. πŸ˜‰


  5. Spanish idioms:
    Your wishes are orders (LA version of your wish is my command).

    Sweating the fat drop.

    (Don’t ask me to say them in spanish!)

    Sweating the fat drop? Wow, what the heck does that mean? I like the sound of it but I’m curious about its history.


  6. A “Dead Ringer” is when you’re at a funeral and someone’s cell phone goes off, and everyone realizes it’s the dead guys phone.

    Ba-da-bing! Good one.


  7. What a great trip down memory lane! These remind me of my mom too. πŸ™‚

    You know, you made me remember something – my ‘people’ are from Pennsylvania originally and every one of them use an idiom I can’t find anywhere ‘read (prounounced red) up the house’ I assumed it is a shortcut that means – make ready the house or something to that effect. Have you ever heard of that one?


  8. Along the lines of ‘you don’t say’, it always makes me laugh when people say ‘really?’ as a response to hearing something interesting or shocking. Like the person is going to say ‘no actually, I just made it up to screw with you’.

    Hey Tanya!
    I actually do do that sometimes when people say, “Really?” I say, ‘nope, I’m just making it up as I go along.’ To which they reply, “Really?” πŸ˜†

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Off the top of my head it’s not really an idiom however what always makes me frown is the
    “is this seat taken?” cause it never gets asked when someone actually is sitting on it!

    Also ‘a straight B-line’, cause I always took it to either mean the letter ‘B’ in which case B isn’t a straight line or something to do with ‘Bees’ and everybody knows that in comics they don’t fly straight either.

    I feel another ‘english as a second language’ post coming on; idioms are every immigrant’s nightmare.

    Hey Spaz,
    I don’t think I ever heard a straight bee-line – but I have heard of a bee-line. Still, good point, they fly all frenzied like. Go figure.

    I imagine that idioms are an immigrants nightmare – or anyone in a foreign country and not hip to the language of the natives so to speak.


    Liked by 1 person

  10. It was a phrase used by Jim Lovell in his communication with Mission Control from Apollo 13 after they stirred the O2 tanks which resulted in the explosion cutting the mission short and scrubbing their landing on the moon

    See? I told you someone would know. πŸ˜‰


  11. A stubby short of six-pack = a bit stupid! (a stubby is a can of beer)
    You’ve got tickets on yourself = you’re an egotistical jerk! (ie you’ve got tickets to your own show)
    Don’t come the raw prawn with me = don’t try and deceive me.
    Full as a goog = stuffed full of food (goog = egg)
    Mad as a cut snake = crazy

    We’re all mad as cut snakes down here mate! πŸ˜‰

    Fantastic! Now, I just have to think of a place to use them. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Can i add my two cents here – although i think i just did… talk about the blind leading the blind, i just love it when people ask “Hey what’s up”? I have never given a straight answer to that one and what about “by the skin of your teeth” that’s a dental nightmare that used to keep me awake as a kid trying to figure that one. But my personal fav has to be “there’s more than one way to skin a cat” which i heavily use to indicate just how many vacations i can squeeze into one year…

    Heck Paul,
    You can add a whole nickle if you want to. I know that skin of the teeth thing used to scare the bageebers out of me too. And I would think the only way to skin a cat is very carefully. πŸ˜‰


  13. As daft as a brush.
    Your all fur coat and no knickers
    Done up like a dog’s dinner.
    Who does she think she is. “Lady Muck”
    Looks like death warmed up.
    Two sandwiches short of a picnic.
    As much use as a nine bob note…

    Hehe!! I leave you with these WC.. πŸ™‚

    Hey Di,
    Those are a hoot. What do they mean?


  14. knee high to a grasshopper (now that is small)

    fair’ to middlin’ (what is middlin’?)

    i don’t give a rat’s ass (and why would anyone?)

    cya later WC!

    Hey Reggie,
    I think a midlin’ is the next taller one than a hobbit. πŸ˜‰


  15. As daft as a brush, and two sandwiches short of a picnic kinda mean your a bit stupid, in a nice
    way. πŸ™‚

    Done up like a dog’s dinner.. Old trying to look young. ( to much makeup )You can also say..Mutton dressed as lamb.

    All fur coat and no knickers means…Trying to be something your not.

    Looks like death warmed up…..Don’t look well.

    As much use as a nine bob note…Not that great at doing whatever it is your doing.

    As thick as two short planks means …Not very bright. hehe!!!

    I’ve had all thses said to me at times in my life over the years. Enjoy WC πŸ™‚

    Wow Di,
    I may have to start my own private idiom journal – I need to write all these down. Very valuable. Love the fur coat one, it’s a trip.


  16. Some of my favourites:
    A picture paints a thousand words
    Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth
    Cute as a button
    The writing’s on the wall
    Hit the nail on the head
    It came like a bolt from the blue (I’d be scared if it did!)
    Let the dog see the rabbit
    Nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs
    Blind leading the blind

    Not an idiom, but thought I’d mention it as well… I hate it when you go to buy something at the checkout, you put your goods down and the salesperson says “You going to buy those?” No I’m going to steal them, just thought I’d show them to you first! πŸ™‚

    Hey CJ,
    I know what you mean, when people ask such obvious questions – I think it’s mostly because people just arent’ good at small talk and there is a hidden law that all retail sales clerks must hate their jobs, people and humanity in general. πŸ˜‰


  17. “I have always loved language – words, definitions, concepts, inferences – could be why I like to write.”

    WC………Well some people have it and some don’t. I guess I could say that the worst part of blogging for me is writing, but I realize that it is the only part of blogging……….steve

    CJ….that “Cute as a Button” idiom has been pasted all over my monitor by my wife. I think she is trying to send a message about being on the computr too much….steve

    Hey Steve,
    I wonder if writing is the only part of blogging – actually I don’t think so – it’s content over writing I think – although many bloggers are crackerjack writers as well. But it seems the message holds more sway than the method of delivering the message. Just my opinion.


  18. She could turn a freight train down a dirt road… Now that’s ugly!
    And my personal pet peeve… ATM machine. Not an idiom, I know, but an Idiotum, as we all know the M in ATM stands for machine, hence, ” I’m going down to the Automated Teller Machine machine to get some cash.” “What? what?”
    And one of my favorites, ” How’d you get to be this old?” Meaning, how could anyone this stupid have survived this long without killing yourself, you fucking moron?”
    And how ’bout this one, “He’s the biggest idiot there ever was, if they had an idiot contest, he’d come in second!”
    “Why not first?
    “Because…he’s an idiot!”

    Wow dude, you got a million of ’em. πŸ˜†


    1. I think I almost know the one about hand over fist, but can’t quite call it up from the memory banks. LOL. Must be old post week – my archives are popular lately. πŸ˜€


  19. A couple of pieces short of a set – the (ocker?) Australian version of this is the ‘stubby’ one, above….
    Argh, normally I’m good at this, but most of them have been taken. I ‘spose I showed up to the party late, after all…


      1. My dad said another one last night, but I forget now… Another one – three shakes of a ‘horse’ (maybe other animals) tail.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Three shakes of a horse’s tail may be the one you’re trying to think of – is your dad from the midwest? That’s where I’m from it’s popular there. Sorry, I missed these comments. πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

      3. No, actually. The two parts of that comment are unrelated. We’re all Aussie here, with roots in Ireland, England and Holland.


      4. Aussie slang, maybe? It means ‘have an accident’. It’s also usually a nasty one. If you stack your bike in this sense for instance, then you’ve fallen off and quite possibly got, ahem, ‘banged up’ quite badly….


      5. ‘A rock and a hard place’.
        I’m always curious as to how idioms translate. I know (because I looked it up when studying the language) that in French, “raining cats and dogs” translates to “il pleut rapiers” or similar – whatever the word is for ropes, anyway, I forget.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Yup, between a rock and a hard place is a favorite – and raining cats and dogs. There was site I used to go to that gave the history of idioms. And I once had a book of idioms (with explanations of origins) which I would use for title ideas. But you know, we writers are an odd lot. πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

      7. What about other rain ones? I heard a lady on radio (in England, while travelling) say, “It’s absolutely tipping down”. I dunno if it was the accent or the idiom/phrase, but we Aussies just looked at each other and laughed…


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