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Idioms

Why do we say 'Catch 22'?

Average: 3.3 (10 votes)

Meaning: an impossible 'no-win' situation

Originally exclusive to bureaucracy, and used to describe a regulation which depended on another, which in turn depended on the first, this idiom today is used to describe any no-win situation, or a situation which seems impossible or difficult because it contains two opposite facts. It originated from Joseph Heller’s famous 1961 novel of the same name.

Why do we say 'Bad Hair Day'?

Average: 3.3 (10 votes)

While a vast number of idioms originate from historical periods, this is not true of all of them, and ‘having a bad hair day’ is one of these exceptions.

Originally meaning ‘a day when your hair seems unmanageable', the use of this expression has now extended to describe a day when everything seems to go wrong.

Why do we say 'Mumbo Jumbo'?

Average: 3.5 (14 votes)

'She couldn't understand the text, it sounded like mumbo - jumbo.'

Why do we say 'Rack your Brains'?

Average: 3.9 (13 votes)

Meaning: To think very hard to find an answer.

Why do we say 'Veg Out'

Average: 4.2 (12 votes)

'After a busy day it's good to veg out on the sofa.'

Meaning: to relax in a lazy and inattentive way. Basically, we are 'vegging out' when we sit on the sofa for a long time doing nothing and hardly moving.

Why do we say 'The Real McCoy'?

Average: 3.3 (11 votes)

 

'This fighter is great. He's the real McCoy, no doubt about it.'

Meaning: the real thing – not a substitute/ fake. Another 'name' based expression, although in this case, nobody seems absolutely sure as to where it originated from.

Why do we say 'Hobson's Choice'?

Average: 3.9 (10 votes)

'You can have a white horse or a white horse...that's Hobson's choice!'

Meaning: to have no choice at all. The only option you have is the one that is being offered to you.

Why do we say 'Barking up the Wrong Tree'?

Average: 3.8 (13 votes)


 


Meaning: Following a dead end path; Being totally wrong about something you believed to be true.

 

When using dogs in a foxhunt, the dogs would sometimes corner the fox in a tree and then proceed to bark up at the fox. Barking up the wrong tree, where there is no fox, is a pointless exercise.

Why do we say 'Bob's your Uncle'?

Average: 4.2 (25 votes)

 

This expression is  mainly used in Britain. It is often used immediately after a set of simple instructions and roughly means the same as '... and it's as simple as that!'

Why do we say 'Beat about the Bush'?

Average: 3.2 (24 votes)

 

No. Not that Bush.