On the Origin of the Clichés and Evolution of Idioms

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Street thieves would literally pull victims down by their leg in order to more easily rob them. To eat crow means to admit fault or be proved wrong after taking a strong position. The Bible lists crow as unfit for eating, and along with buzzards and rats, it was actually illegal to eat crow in the Middle Ages. As such, it was notably humiliating to consume. The term " break a leg " originates in theater. Since superstitions run rampant in the theater, it's not surprising to learn that wishing someone good luck outright is actually considered bad luck.

Instead, it was more suitable to wish ill will on someone before a performance, since the opposite was supposed to occur. Before electricity, workers needed a second set of hands to hold a candle for them. Holding a candle was clearly a less challenging job, so someone who isn't even qualified to provide light to a competent worker obviously wouldn't be able to perform the task himself. Meaning to dress exceptionally well, there's no concrete consensus on the origin of " dressing to the nines ," but the most popular theory comes from the fact that the very best suits used a full nine yards of fabric.

The short answer is that Aesop said it. He wrote of a young milkmaid balancing a pail on her head. The girl thought, The milk in this pail will provide me with cream, which I will make into butter, which I will sell in the market, and buy a dozen eggs, which will hatch into chickens, which will lay more eggs, and soon I shall have a large poultry yard. I'll sell some of the fowls and buy myself a handsome new gown and go to the fair, and when the young fellows try to make love to me, I'll toss my head and pass them by.

At that moment, the girl tossed her head and lost the pail of milk. Germanic languages. According to contemporary philology. West Germanic. English dialects Yola Fingallian Scots. Dutch Afrikaans.

English-language idioms

Low Dietsch. North Germanic and East Germanic. Gothic Crimean Gothic Burgundian Vandalic. Italics indicate extinct languages Languages between parentheses are varieties of the language on their left. Dictionaries of English. Australian National Australian Oxford Macquarie. Geopolitical use. English-speaking world. Click on a coloured area to see an article about English in that country or region. List of countries by English-speaking population List of countries where English is an official language.

Countries and territories where English is the national language or the native language of the majority.

Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. Countries and territories where English is an official language, but not the majority first language. Puerto Rico.

Origins of Phrases

Gibraltar Akrotiri and Dhekelia Malta. Dependencies shown in italics.

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Morphology Plurals Prefixes in English Suffixes frequentative. Orthography Abbreviations Capitalization Comma Hyphen. Achilles' heel. To treat a topic but omit its main points, often intentionally or to delay or avoid talking about something difficult or unpleasant. On genuine objection to some process or action or motion, actually to stop or oppose it strongly. Don't make plans for something that may not happen; alternatively, don't make an assumption about something that does not have a definitively predetermined outcome.

A minor drawback or imperfection, especially one that was not at first apparent, that detracts from something positive, spoils something valuable, or is a source of annoyance. To tackle a problem in a bold manner, despite the difficulty or complexity of doing so; to solve a problem despite short-term adverse consequences. To have asked for or taken more of something especially food than one is actually capable of handling or eating.

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30 Common, English Idioms and the History Behind Them | Bachelor's Degree

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But now he is running his own successful company! Hold all the cards. Play your cards close to your chest. Lay all your cards on the table.

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Will you sell it to me for that price? Play your cards right. Play your trump card. Have an ace up your sleeve. Now, try to write your own sentences using these expressions.