Category Archives: Idiom of the Week

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Idiom of the Week – Touch Wood

‘Touch wood’ Meaning: Words spoken to avoid bad luck and be blessed with good Explanation: Evolving from a 19th-century children’s game of the same name – and in which players would only be ‘safe’ when literally touching a piece of wood – the term ‘touch wood’ (or it’s American variant, ‘knock on wood’), is a…

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Idiom of the Week – A monkey on one’s back

‘A monkey on one’s back’ Meaning: A burdensome problem Explanation: A common figure of speech during the later half of the 19th century was to use the word monkey as a synonym for temper. As such, phrases such as ‘get one’s monkey up’ would denote an individual losing their temper. The evolution of this term…

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Idiom of the Week – Nip it in the Bud

‘To nip it in the bud’ Meaning: To prevent a problem escalating in scale by resolving at an earlier stage Explanation: The evolution of this particular idiom – and whose reference to halting the development of a plant early in its growth by cutting away the buds (or shoots) – begins in the 16th century,…

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Idiom of the Week – No Holds Barred

‘No holds barred’ Meaning: Without restraint or restriction Explanation: Dating from the first half of the 20th century and relating to the sport of wrestling, ‘no holds barred’ has entered common usage to denote acting without inhibition or restraint, or even being prepared to disregard the rules of fair play. Though the sporting connotations remain…

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Idiom of the week – Barking up the Wrong Tree

‘To bark up the wrong tree’ Meaning: To pursue an incorrect line of enquiry Explanation: Originating in 19th-century America, the term ‘to bark up the wrong tree’ began during the pursuit of racoon hunting. Due to the nocturnal nature of the racoon, dogs would be set upon its prey only during the darkness hours, chasing…

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Idiom of the Week – Get The Sack

“To get the sack” Meaning: To be dismissed from work, either because of poor performance or insufficient work being available Explanation: Before the Industrial Revolution in Europe and the age of mass employment, people who needed work done and had the means to pay someone else to do it would hire workers with the skills…

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