Category Archives: Idiom of the Week

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Idiom of the Week – ‘The apple of one’s eye’

‘The apple of one’s eye’ Meaning: Someone or something cherished over all else Explanation: This phrase is extremely old, with references dating back to AD 885. More recently, it has appeared in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream,and also Sir Walter Scott’s Old Mortality where it’s used to describe someone who was favoured. Example: She loves…

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Idiom of the Week – ‘Better the devil you know’

‘Better the devil you know’ Meaning: When faced with two undesirable options, it’s better to pick the one you’re familiar with Explanation: Although it’s unclear where this expression originated, sources suggest it’s a proverb of Irish origin that dates back to the 14th century. By the 1800s it was in more common usage, appearing in…

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Idiom of the Week – ‘Like two peas in a pod’

‘Like two peas in a pod’ Meaning: Two people or items that are very similar Explanation: This phrase refers to the fact that two peas from the same pod are virtually identical. Versions of it first appeared in the late 1500s, with the expression taking on it’s contemporary form around the 17th century. Example:They both…

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Idiom of the Week – ‘Call a spade a spade’

‘Call a spade a spade’ Meaning: To speak frankly and straightforwardly, even if the subject matter is unpleasant Explanation: This term is thought to have originated in Greece. A character in a play by dramatist Menander says, “I call a fig a fig, and a spade a spade.”  It came into English in the 1500s,…

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Idiom of the Week – ‘Read between the lines’

‘Read between the lines’ Meaning: Identify a meaning that isn’t made obvious Explanation:Dating back to the 19th century, this phrase comes from a form of cryptography where a hidden meaning was secreted between lines of text. Before long it began to refer to interpreting any coded or unclear message in a range of contexts. Example:Her…

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Idiom of the Week – ‘Elephant in the room’

‘Elephant in the room’ Meaning:An important topic that everyone present is aware of, but that is considered uncomfortable and is not being discussed Explanation:Originating in the US, this phrase dates back to at least the 1950s and may have initially had a slightly different meaning to the one we use today. The current usage appears…

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Idiom of the Week – ‘A diamond in the rough’

‘A diamond in the rough’ Meaning: A person of good character or potential, but lacking polish and refinement Explanation: This phrase, also expressed as ‘rough diamond’, refers to the uncut and unpolished state of diamonds when they are mined. It first appears in 1624 in John Fletcher’s AWife for a Month: “She is very honest,…

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Idiom of the Week – ‘No man is an island’

‘No man is an island’ Meaning: People need others around them to thrive Explanation: Originating in John Donne’s 1624 work, Devotions upon emergent occasions and seuerall steps in my sickness, this phrase has become a common idiom in the English language. Example: It’s OK to reach out to your friends when you feel down. No…

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Idiom of the Week – Wax lyrical

Wax lyrical Meaning: Speak enthusiastically and poetically about something Explanation: This expression derives from the verb ‘to wax’, meaning ‘to grow’. In modern English, it is only used to describe the increase of the moon’s size in the night sky, but in days gone by it commonly referred to growth. The phrase itself first appeared…

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