Happy Hallowe’en!! Welcome to the world when it’s closest to the other side. A night when shadows seem to suddenly take on the form of something else. When you’re not sure if you just heard a knock on the wall or… are you? When you find yourself glancing over your shoulder as you walk down a dark street only to have a group of children in festive gear scream past you on their way to another trick or treat.
In the spirit of Hallowe’en, we have created a list of the most ghoulish English language idioms. Get to know them and enjoy adding a sprinkle of spookiness to your conversations.
1. Put a spell on you
A fun, witchy way to describe someone being fascinated by something or being influenced by someone. It comes from somebody casting a spell on you and being powerless to its effects. An influence so strong, it has magical power.
2. Spill your guts
This is often said to someone who is holding a secret or keeping information from another person or persons. When trying to find out what it is, they may be told “you know what happened. Spill your guts!”
3. Digging your own grave
We must admit, the visual of this is pretty creepy but its meaning is perfect. When someone knowingly does something that will get them in trouble, or starts to do something dangerous, you can tell them, “you are digging your own grave”.
4. Play the Devil’s advocate
This is a very visual way to describe someone who will always argue against an idea or suggestion. Usually for the sole purpose of listening to the other people validate their suggestion. An example of this idiom in a sentence would be, “We can’t make a decision because Jess is playing Devil’s advocate”.
5. Like a bat out of hell
“They were driving like a bat out of hell!” This idiom explains itself really. If you were in hell wouldn’t you want to get out of there as fast as possible?!
6. Going on a witch hunt
This idiom has deep roots in the dark history of the witch trials in the 17th century. Today, we reference it when we want to refer to someone who is blaming another person or group based purely on their own opinion but has nothing to do with the facts.
7. Working the graveyard shift
When you work the graveyard shift, you work between midnight and 8am. So, it’s just you and all things nocturnal… owls, zombies, witches and ghosts. Or maybe that was just Steve coming in the door because he’s also working the graveyard shift.
8. A snowball’s chance in hell
Back to hell for idiom no.8. Picture it: a snowball in the fiery depths of hell. It won’t survive in that heat, right? So, use this whenever a situation is hopeless.
Samanta: “I completely forgot about the English exam today! I didn’t study!”
Marco: “Uh-oh, you don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of passing it now.”
9. It makes my blood boil
Have you ever been so angry or irritated that you felt you might explode? Then this is the phrase for you. The next time something annoys you, which hopefully won’t be anytime soon, just remember these words. “It makes my blood boil!”
10. I am dead on my feet
You know that feeling when you’re so tired that you can’t even think? The thought of trying to stand up or work or speak is impossible. Walking is not going to happen either. The tiredness is killing you. You know what that means? You’re dead on your feet, my friend!
Have fun with these at any time of year, and wherever you are studying English. Idioms are a fun and playful way to practice English conversation more naturally. With time, you’ll start using them in conversation without even meaning to and that’s when you know you’re really mastering the English language. So, go out, have fun and stay spooky.