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You’ll Be Fit To Be Tied When You Realize How Often You Use Idioms!

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Fit To Be Tied Idioms

When I was growing up, there were a whole lot of idioms in our house.

Careful, I said idioms, not idiots.

Big difference!

Do you know what an idiom is?

From Grammarist.com:

“An idiom is a word or phrase whose meaning can’t be understood outside its cultural context. These expressions are usually figurative and would be nonsensical if read literally. Although most of us only use a few idioms in our everyday speech, it’s believed that there are tens of thousands of them in the English language.”

Tens of thousands? Wow.

Mum was always a big user of idioms. It’s actually thanks to her that I have a fascination with these funny expressions.

One idiom that she used quite frequently?

Good Lord love a duck. 

Say what?

What duck… and why do we want the good Lord to love it?

As funny as this idiom is, I always knew what it meant when my mum said it. She would say it when she was stunned or shocked about something that had happened. It seems it was akin to today’s “WTF!”, yet the intent of this old phrase was not to be offensive in any way.

So what does “Lord love a duck” really mean, and where did it come from?

According to WorldWideWords.org, this expression is “a mild and inoffensive expression of surprise, once well-known in Britain and dating from the latter years of the nineteenth century.” 

T.S. Eliot used it in his book, “The Rock of 1934”, stating “Lor-love-a-duck, it’s the missus!”.

Perhaps this is why my mum, born in 1932, used this idiom a lot. It was likely something she heard many adults saying during her childhood.

Mum had a few other idioms that she used regularly, most notably:

“(I’ll bet you) dollars to doughnuts

Mum’s use of idioms had an effect on me.

One idiom I use quite often always gives my better half a good chuckle: “Six of one, half a dozen of the other”. He had never heard that one until meeting me. To him, this idiom is quite nonsensical.

What does it really mean? It’s comparing two things that are almost the same. As in, “six” is really a “half-dozen”.

One idiom that my dear aunt uses all the time is “For John’s sake!”. Why John? Why not Pat, Gord, or Tony?

Another idiom I remember my mum saying every once in a while was “house of ill repute” when referring to unsavoury news stories. That one definitely got chuckles out of the teenage me, once I understood the meaning behind it.

Something that I find rather amazing is that, for the most part, we’ve “got it down pat”.  While the words are “outside cultural context”, we all have a good understanding of what many idioms mean.

In doing some research for this post, I realized that I had NO idea how many things that I say, on a regular basis, are idioms.

So I decided to make a list. I’ve included two that could be considered “newer” idioms – ones made popular by pop culture over the last few decades. Can you spot them?

How many of these idioms do you use?


95 Commonly Used Idioms

Ride roughshod

Heavens to Betsy

In a jiffy

On the fritz

Just desserts

Barking up the wrong tree

Piece of cake

Throw in the towel

Like a fish out of water

Eke out a living

Don’t judge a book by its cover

Elvis has left the building

Back to square one

Play it by ear

Caught red-handed

Don’t bite off more than you can chew

Once in a blue moon

Kill two birds with one stone

The ball’s in your court

It takes two to tango

Let sleeping dogs lie

If push comes to shove

Kick the bucket

Best thing since sliced bread

Raining cats and dogs

Pull your socks up

A taste of your own medicine

As easy as pie

At the eleventh hour

Straight from the horse’s mouth

Blow your top

By the skin of one’s teeth

Burning the midnight oil

Beat around the bush

Break a leg

Can’t make heads nor tails of something

Costs an arm and a leg

Down in the dumps

A bang-up job

Get a kick out of it

An eager beaver

Got it down pat

In over your head

Jump the gun

Keep and eye out/on

Ride roughshod

Keep your finger’s crossed

Keep your chin up

Let sleeping dogs lie

Living from hand to mouth

Making a mountain out of a mole hill

Pay the piper

Pull your leg

Pleased as punch

You’ve made your bed, now lie in it

Until you’re blue in the face

Until hell freezes over

Take it with a grain of salt

Wet behind the ears

With bells on

Golden handshake

Works like a charm

Don’t have a cow

Penny wise pound foolish

Apple of my eye

Trip the light fantastic

Fit to be tied

If the shoe fits

Tricks of the trade

Keep it under your hat

Get the show on the road

Whole bag of tricks

Explore all avenues

Word of mouth

Behind the eight ball

Full of beans

Bee in your bonnet

Bring home the bacon

Chatty Cathy

Have your cake and eat it too

Fight tooth and nail

Going dutch

Learn the ropes

Over a barrel

Nothing to sneeze at

Warts and all

Pay through the nose

Push the envelope

Get the ball rolling

Read between the lines

Been there done that

On a wing and a prayer

Paint the town red

Hit the nail on the head

At the drop of a hat


And last but not least, by hook or by crook, I will end this complete list of idioms here.

I know there are many more idioms out there! Know any? Share them in the comments!

 

  1. December 22, 2016

    Sandy

    Bingo,Lyse!! You got one of them 🙂 Love that you didn’t Google it either 🙂

  2. December 20, 2016

    Lyse

    I’ve heard of most of them and I’ve certainly used a few. One of your “new” ones must be “Trip the light fantastic” because it makes absolutely no sense to my older mind.

    • December 21, 2016

      Sandy

      Actually, that one is an old idiom: ” To “trip the light fantastic” is to dance nimbly or lightly, or to move in a pattern to musical accompaniment. It is often used in a humorous vein. As early as 1908 it was viewed as a cliché or hackneyed phrase.” (from Google) You’ll have to keep guessing at the newer ones, Lyse 😉 Thanks for stopping by!

      • December 21, 2016

        Lyse Chartrand

        Golden handshake?

        • December 21, 2016

          Sandy

          That’s an older one too: “a payment given to someone who is laid off or retires early.”

          • December 21, 2016

            Lyse Chartrand

            OMG, how about Elvis has left the building? As you can see, I’m not cheating and checking on Google.

             
  3. December 19, 2016

    Brenda A

    Great. Now I have something ELSE to add to my growing list of things to get done. Figure out the meaning behind a bunch of these that I had never really considered before. The dark is often not a bad place to live. Ah rats. Isn’t that an idiom? To be living in the dark?

    • December 19, 2016

      Sandy

      Hehehe! I still have to do that, Brenda. I know all of them (I think) but, it’s sort of interesting to look up the origin of each one to learn where they came from. Ha! Love your reference to living in the dark 🙂 I believe it is! Thanks so much for stopping by!

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