Idioms: Who created these strange sayings? Are they called idioms because the authors were idiots? I don’t think so. Most of these colorful expressions are useful and efficient, using a minimum of words. Sitting Duck is so much more efficient than “being in a hopelessly indefensible position”. If someone was urging me to hit the road because I was in danger, “You’re a sitting duck!” would be a much more effective message.
It doesn’t take long for anyone fluent in English to grasp the meanings of dozens of idioms, but newcomers to our language can find these sometimes bizarre phrases confusing. I was once an ESL volunteer. My student and I were making good progress, but Nick was impatient with our pace. “Slow down, ” I told him, :You’re learning fast enough, but you’ve got ants in your pants.”
Nick looked startled. “Insects? You see insects on my trousers?” That was the day I decided to get idioms into the curriculum. However, I stumbled again when Nick was about to graduate. “Nick, they say you’ll have to make a short speech at the ceremony. I hope that won’t be a kick in the pants for you.”
“Again with the trousers!” he moaned. “A kick in the pants? Is that part of the ceremony? My family will be there and that would be very humiliating.” I apologized and explained that a kick in the pants means only an unexpected and unappreciated turn of events.
That’s almost almost all I have to say in this post and you might think i’m ending up in the air. but I’m running out of gas so I think I’ll hit the hay and catch a few Z’s. I’ll be busy tomorrow with a lot on my plate and I don’t want to be caught asleep at the switch. The few idioms in this piece are only a drop in the bucket. Others have animal references: Dog in the manger; Cat’s got your tongue; Sleeping Tiger’; The elephant in the room; Monkeying around and A fish out of water.
Here’s one I invented about a boring conversationalist: “He’s fluent in Spamish.” For someone who’s reckless and accident prone, there’s “He’s always jumping to contusions.” Experiencing a temporary mental lapse could be “Having a bug in my hard drive.“
Have I missed the boat by not including your favorites ? What are they? Can you make some up? Go out on a limb and give it a shot.