idioms_4c040847475b2_hiresIdiom (ˈɪdɪəm)  n  A phrase which cannot be understood from the meaning of the individual words it contains, for example, “It’s raining cats and dogs.”

My mom introduced me to idioms when I was a kid by using them frequently. When I was misbehaving (roughly 23 hours per day), she would warn me that she had eyes in the back of her head. I can still picture them peering out at me. The-Shining-Jack-Nicholson-Through-Door-394x394And in the evenings, she’d would ask me to go “stick your head through the door and tell your father dinner’s ready.”

Years later, my circle of friends included a roommate from the Netherlands named Constant who knew very little English. But that didn’t hinder him; he’d just transliterate colorful Dutch idioms. In the midst of a conversation he’d say something like, “Yeah, that’s like handing your uncle a fish while he’s riding a bicycle.”

Another foreign-born friend, an adorable woman from Bulgaria named Yolly, was fluent in English, but used delightfully quirky imported idioms. For example, she’d often tug below her eye and say, “See any boats?” I finally asked her what it meant. She said the phrase and accompanying action were used whenever anyone over-explained something. In fact, the idiom was so common in her country that the eye-tug was usually all that was needed.

She didn’t know the idiom’s derivation, but we figured it must mean something like, “Do you think there’s no brain in my head, just a lake with boats floating around in it?” For years after that, I’d tug on my eye when anyone over-explained something. Just so I could tell them about my wonderfully idiomatic friend Yolly.

What are some of your favorite idioms?

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Culture, Humor, Mitchellaneous and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

42 Responses to Idioms

  1. Jennie says:

    “I feel like a penny waiting to be changed.” Gives a much more positive spin to saying how you feel straight out.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. “One taco short of the whole enchilada…” Meaning the same as the boats. 😉 I love the “handing the fish to your uncle while he’s riding a bike” idiom. I laughed out loud when I read it. I can just see trying to hang onto a slippery fish while balancing on a bike… hilarious. Great inspiration for a Laurel and Hardy-like skit! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  3. mscapricorn says:

    My eight year old just told me yesterday I used an idiom probably for the same reason your mother used her idioms. Lol. I guess she was right to. I have three boys 9, 8,and 4.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. revruss1220 says:

    I use the idiom, “I’ve been running pillar to post” to describe a time of frantic activity. Although I have no idea what pillar or which post I am allegedly running between.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Running around like a chicken with its head cut off – – which if you’ve ever seen that in action, is an interesting analogy for some people.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Another one I picked up in the South is, “you buys your ticket and you takes your ride” used to describe someone who ultimately realized the end game of their behavior(s).

    Liked by 3 people

  7. sniderjerry says:

    My mother was fond of telling me, “You’re talking like a fish out of water.”

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Elitsa says:

    Idioms can “send you for green caviar” (Bulgarian 🙂 )

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Wally Fry says:

    “It’s the bees knees.” I actually use it, because my grandmother always said it. I have no clue it’s roots LOL

    Liked by 2 people

  10. smzang says:

    I grew up surrounded by a lovely population of Mennonites. That particular group had roots that merges with the Amish, so I’m not sure who originated the sayings:

    The following are some of their idioms that I remember

    Throw Momma from the train a kiss.
    Bend the branch while it is young.
    The cookies are all but the milk is yet.
    Outten the light.

    and I’m not sure of the origin of “He has ants in his pants.”

    It’s fun to remember old faces and voices as I recall sayings
    that were a part of every day life.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. cricketmuse says:

    you’ve got to check out my “Why We Say” posts

    Liked by 2 people

  12. MaxieJane says:

    Wonderful! I don’t mean to steal your thunder, but I heard it straight from the horse’s mouth that idioms are hilarious if you really think about them!

    Liked by 4 people

  13. My husband is Mexican, and one that he told me his mom used to say was, “You raise crows to claw your eyes out” talking about disobedient kids lol

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Candice says:

    I like the German idiom kummerspeck. It literally means grief bacon and is used to describe overeating when sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. carhicks says:

    There is a series of children’s books with a character called Amelia Bedelia. She takes everything literally. I always used these books when teaching kids about idioms. They are cute and funny.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. BelleUnruh says:

    One of our family’s idioms is, “The pizza’s on it’s way!”

    Liked by 2 people

  17. BelleUnruh says:

    I pushed send by accident! Anyway, it means saying something inappropriate. A few of us were talking about someone’s death and being serious. My husband pipes up, The pizza’s on it’s way.” We all looked at him and started laughing. He had been checking the pizza’s route while we talked.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. In high school, I befriended an exchange student from Poland named Agnieszka. We always spent our lunch times together, and she asked me what it meant if someone said, “I’m just pulling your leg.” When I explained it means “I’m just joking with you” (at least it does in East TN), she asked, “Why?”
    It’s been… a handful… of years since then, and I have yet to answer her question.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. He or she as a big heart – My understanding is an enlarged heart is a medical condition that requires immediate attention not a remark that provides positive attention

    Liked by 2 people

  20. gpavants says:

    Hi Mitch,

    Hm, “Can’t see the forest for the trees.” I have to remember to not miss details and the flip don’t get caught up into details too much. I love idioms, but can’t think of any this early in the morning.

    Thanks, brother.


    Liked by 2 people

  21. Cindy Dawson says:

    When my middle school students give me a line, I like to say, “I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck!” (They don’t know what that means!)

    Liked by 2 people

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