Every so often I’ll get a call from a former student who is originally from Bejing. It has been years since she was in my Intermediate Writing class, mostly filled with international students, but she still considers me her teacher–a fact which pleases me a great deal. Sometimes she wants to know what an American expression or idiom means. Recently I made a list of commonly used idioms and am going to share them this rainy morning:
“Let the cat out of the bag” or “spill the beans” means to tell a secret unintentionally. Ex. I thought your daughter knew you were thinking about moving. I didn’t mean to let the cat out of the bag.
“Bite the dust” means to die. In the Wild West, a cowboy who was shot “bit the dust.”
“When pigs fly” means it (whatever you’re talking about) isn’t ever going to happen. Ex. I will let my son go to see that trashy movie when pigs fly.
“Heard it through the grapevine” means one heard something from gossip exchanged person to person. Ex. Mrs, Jones is getting a divorce. I heard it through the grapevine.
“Go cold turkey” means to quit something suddenly and completely. Ex. I gave up cigarettes cold turkey.
A “wet blanket” is someone who ruins all the fun. Ex. Don’t invite Mary to the party; she’s a wet blanket.
When one is “talking up a blue streak,” he/she is talking very fast. Ex. The two ladies seated at the corner table were talking up a blue streak.
“Sit tight” means do not do anything until you are told what to do next. Ex. Until you hear from me about applying for the loan, sit tight.
These are just a few of the hundreds, maybe thousands of idioms used in daily American speech.
Which ones do you hear all the time? Scroll way down and leave a reply. The box will open up for you. List an idiom you have heard, or if there is an expression/idiom that is not clear, use “reply” to ask what it means.
“Be seeing you” means goodbye for now.