It's Idiomatic

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Christine Ammer author of more than three dozen reference books, including The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, Second Edition, gets to the heart of American English idiomatic phrases, including idioms that feature animals.

Tomorrow's assignment: "Lame duck" and "dark horse" are used in politics.  What idiomatic phrase would you use to describe today's political standoff?


Creative listeners threw caution to the wind and piled on the idioms in yesterday's Facebook assignment:

  • Eddie:  My ex wife really took me to the cleaners. When She asked for a divorce i thought she was pulling my leg. Now i live in a hole in the wall apartment and can barely keep my head above water. But I'm dating this younger woman who keeps me on my toes. We are keeping our eyes peeled for a bigger apartment, until then I'm pinching pennies and working like a dog but i am as happy as a clam. My ex wife wanted to get back together and we chew the rag now and again but i think she is just feeding me a line and i hope she kicks the bucket soon. Word! 
  • Mark: I am fed up with these beasts of burden complaining that those of us born with silver spoons in our mouths are uncaring cretins who never lend a hand to their inferiors. I take this criticism to heart because I have never kept myself at arm's length from my fellow man or woman despite their potent stench of humanity. I suggest these pampered crybabies get real and pull their heads from out of the clouds and see life the way it is by grabbing the bull by the tail and facing the situation.
  • Tom: I met the new kid on the block today, who wanted to spin a yarn about the girl next door. It seems he found her the apple of his eye and had fallen head over heels for her. Not to burst his bubble, I didn't have the heart to let him know she'd been around the block a few times. I didn't want him to get in over his head and advised him to cool it. Turns out I was beating a dead horse, that ship had already sailed. Guess I'll let sleeping dogs lie and keep my nose clean.
  • Beverly: I was building a castle in the sky when it started pouring cats and dogs, I ran myself ragged looking for a place to lay my head because I was as tired as a dog from all that running like a chicken with my head cut off. Finally I found a place to lay my head and I was living in a shell as high as a hog. Never smoke in bed, especially marijuana, to put it in a nutshell, it will give you strange dreams.
  • Edith: Time to throw in the towel, he thought. I've slaved away at the ol' 9 to five for dogs years. Guess I'm over the hill now, gonna head out to greener pastures. Wouldn't mind a little sun & sky. And I think a change of scene would do wonders for the little missus & our marital bliss. That's it! I have come to a firm decision - I'm booking the next flight to nowhere!
  • Kathryn: He reached for the pie in the sky but tripped and fell down like a ton of bricks. When he got up and he said "I am no longer fit like a fiddle". Why can I no longer see the forest for the trees? I am old! Upset, he flew off the handle but continued...and then fell over dead as a doornail.
  • Tammi: I didn't think he had it in him, but he took off like a bat out of hell. When he asked me to race him I thought he'd cut me a little slack -- he's the cream of the crop since making it to the big time. But off he went, leaving me in the dust and giving me lip the whole way.


Christine Ammer

Comments [6]

Yoichi Hariguchi from Menlo Park, CA

Buck Passers.

Feb. 26 2013 02:14 PM
Victoria Scelba from Woodland Park, NJ

Today's political standoff? Politicians will definitely be looking for a scapegoat, but first they have to deal with the dumb bunnies.

Feb. 26 2013 12:34 PM
sally dougan from Cokesbury, NJ

Despite all odds, with much hue and cry, and by hook or crook he bearded the lion, and in the blink of an eye he ran it up the flagpole to see who would salute, liked the way the cookie crumbled, went the full nine yards, called it a day, and lived the life of Riley. Until the lion rose like Lazarus, demanded his due, went at him hammer and tongs, put him behind the eight ball, which made his day. Needing to get out of a jam, he picked his brain, called his bluff, turned into a pumpkin.

Feb. 26 2013 12:00 PM
mickey jean from nyc

I use this as my Halloween costume every year - Cat's Pyjama's. No clue what it means but on Halloween, it's me dressed as a cat wearing pyjamas.

Feb. 26 2013 12:00 PM
Robert from NYC

You can lead a horse to water but... you know the rest!

Feb. 26 2013 10:12 AM
Ed from Larchmont

In honor of Pope Benedict, how about historical idioms surrounding the papacy, like 'he who bites the pope, dies of it'. Others?

Feb. 26 2013 05:59 AM

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