Date Posted : Jun 2, 2011 Writing Tips
Written by : EKurtz
I recently shared a very popular post on idioms. Here, some more expressions, with examples and explanations:
- Instead of going pro, Clair took an athletic scholarship from the University of Michigan because she wanted the best of both worlds – to be an athlete and a scholar.
(While most people can only live in one world, those who get “the best of both” find a way to live in two. Their situations are ideal. Claire, an excellent student athlete, can either “go pro” – enter the professional sports arena – or go to university and continue to play on a team. She chooses the latter because it lets her live in two metaphorical “worlds” – the athletic world and the academic world.)
- Pierre never forgave his brother for not having paid him back, but at family reunions, he acted like it was all water under the bridge.
(Pierre has hard feelings against his brother but pretends that he has moved on, just like water under a bridge, which is in constant motion.)
- When Whitney realized her position was out of line with the company’s, she did an abrupt about-face.
(Whitney is moving in one metaphorical direction – toward a particular goal or end – but when she realizes that this is actually the wrong direction, she turns around, to face the other way. You may have heard “about-face” in a military context; troops marching in one direction are told to do an “about-face” and march in another direction.)
- When the company unexpectedly went bankrupt, Dan was swept up in a tide of events that left him jobless.
(A major event occurs within Dan’s company that, like a tide, carries him along. He is swept up, off his feet, and unable to control events, finds himself without a job.)
- Sarah meant to make a short speech but got carried away and spoke for an hour.
(Like “swept up in a/the tide of events”, “carried away” conveys the sense of being picked up, off one’s feet, and taken in a direction that one can’t control – and, perhaps, to a place that one didn’t want to go. Sarah intends to speak for not that long, but something overcomes her and “carries” her away. She goes “further” than she means to, speaking for an hour, rather than a few minutes.)
- Having argued for a month, John and Bill decided to clear the air.
(John and Bill’s argument is dirtying the metaphorical air between them. They decide to resolve their issues, thereby cleaning things up.)
- When Jennifer complained that she hadn’t been promoted, she was told by her superiors that everyone was in the same boat.
(Jennifer thinks her situation exceptional – and acts as if she is on her own. But her supervisors tell her that other employees share her plight. They are affected by the same winds and waters and will suffer the same fate, as do people in the same boat.)
Posted under : Writing Tips