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Idioms

Why do we say 'Salt of the earth'?

Average: 3.4 (11 votes)

salt of the earth

Being described by someone as ‘the salt of the earth’ is quite a compliment...it means that you are a person of great worth and reliability. The expression is Biblical in origin (Matthew 5:13), and it is believed that the use of ‘salt’ in the expression is a reference to the value of salt, which was supposedly quite a valued commodity back then!

Sports Idioms

Average: 3.7 (15 votes)

Lots of idiomatic expressions come from things people say to each other in sports. For example in fishing,'to get off the hook' means literally, for the fish to escape! These phrases have been adapted and, as idioms, can be used in a variety of circumstances. In each of these sentences, can you decide which idiom is needed?
Caroline Devane

Driving Idioms

Average: 3.3 (15 votes)

Why do we say 'In A Pickle'?

Average: 2.8 (8 votes)

If you are in a pickle, you are in a difficult position, or have a problem to which no easy answer can be found.

The word ‘pickle’ comes from the Dutch word ‘pekel’, meaning ‘something piquant’, and originally referred to a spiced, salted vinegar that was used as a preservative.

In the seventeenth century, vegetables like cucumbers or gherkins that were preserved took the name.

The ‘in difficulty’ meaning of the expression alludes to the idea of being as mixed up and disoriented as the pickled vegetables in the jar!

Why do we say 'Just Deserts'?

Average: 3.3 (9 votes)

If you get your just deserts, you get what you deserve.

The word ‘deserts’, in the sense of ‘what you deserve’, has been used in English since the thirteenth century.

‘Just’, of course, means ‘fair’.

It should be noted that the pronunciation of deserts in this expression is stressed on the second syllable, as in ‘desserts’.

The spelling, however, is correct.

A desert is an arid and desolate region of land, and its use as ‘that which is deserved’ is now limited to this single phrase.

How are you today?

Average: 3.1 (13 votes)

Emotional Idioms

Today, let’s focus on some idioms that we can use to talk about how we are feeling emotionally.

All you need to do is match the idioms with their literal meanings. How are you feeling today?
Lesson by Caroline

Why do we say 'get the upper hand'?

Average: 3 (5 votes)

To Get The Upper Hand

If you get the upper hand, you take a dominant position.

There is still some question as to where this saying comes from, but it is generally acknowledged that the phrase originated from American children in playgrounds.

In order to determine who gets first choice of player for their teams when playing baseball, one team captain grabs the bat at the bottom, and then the other captain takes hold above the first’s hand.

Why do we say 'excuse my French'?

Average: 3.1 (9 votes)

Excuse my French

This phrase is used in conversation when someone swears or curses, and is a request for forgiveness for using taboo language.

Of course, both the speaker and the listener are very much aware that whatever was said was in English and not French.

The expression originates from the 19th century, and was used literally.

Food Idioms

Average: 3.4 (15 votes)

Here’s a list of idioms that all include a type of food, but can you remember which food completes which idiom? When you’ve finished filling them in, see if you can explain what each idiom means. Good luck!
Lesson by Caroline

Business English - Formal Idioms

Average: 3.5 (16 votes)

Read the following short story. Pay attention to the idioms:
Lesson by David, EC London English school