Money that I Love! (May 10)
tighten your belt
If you have limited money or a small budget, then it is a good idea
to "tighten your belt." This means to reduce spending in
out of pocket
If you are "out of pocket," perhaps you have loaned some
money to a "friend" and this "friend" has not paid
money grows on trees
You think "money grows on trees" since you are always
asking me for more and more and more.
money to burn
If you have "money to burn" you have plenty and do not need
make a killing
When you "make a killing" you make lots of money on some
kind of small investment, such as buying a stock at fifty cents and
selling at fifty dollars a share.
from hand to mouth
To live "from hand to mouth" is to have only just enough to
eat, a place to sleep, but nothing to spare.
from paycheck to paycheck
Students often live "paycheck to paycheck". This means that
the money is gone before the next paycheck comes.
a nest egg
The savings my wife and I have made for my children is a "nest
egg" for their future.
don't put all your eggs in one basket
When you invest, diversify. If all your "eggs are in one
basket" you could lose all your money.
go Dutch; chip in (kick in)
The teenagers "chip in" or "kick in" a few
dollars each, so they can order a Big New Yorker pizza from Pizza Hut.
First "two bits" is 25 cents. My "two bits" is my
opinion. "If you want to hear my two bits about that . . . "
two cents worth (more American, but also Canadian)
same as above; an opinion
red cent (very small amount; almost nothing)
I wouldn't give you a "red cent" if it was the last day of
salt away money
To "salt away money" is to save money carefully.
a Quiz on the above idioms.
Globe Idioms (May 6)
to get under someone's skin
I'm trying to get under your skin with my comments about your
work habits, your test marks, and your language practice. To get
under someone's skin is to bother them with some idea, or problem
that that person needs to solve.
cry into your beer
If you think Brad is being mean, you can go and "cry into
your beer." This does not mean that you must go out and drink
beer, but it does mean that you feel bad and you whine about it to your
the seeds are sown
The seeds are sown. When you raise your children well, the seeds
are sown for their successful future. Where did Bill Gates sow his
first successful seeds? DOS was written by IBM and Bill Gates licensed
it from them and sold it to the world.
the middle ground
Do you take the middle ground when people argue in your house?
If you do, you try to compromise and find a solution that will satisfy
the odds are stacked against
Now many people have tickets on tonight's Super 7, but the odds
are stacked against them. Odds are your chance to win the prize.
6/49 odds are 13 000 000 to one. (These odds are like this: take 13 000
000 five dollar bills and place them end to end until Calgary and place
a black dot on one. Drive your car beside the road, stop, and pick up
the one with a dot.)
a thorny issue
It's a thorny issue to decide what to do IF you win a very
large lottery prize. The word issue is used to mean problem.
the turn of events
The turn of events that has occurred in many former Communist
countries has not always been as happy as people expected. So, this turn
of events is opposite to many people's original thinking.
A business mantra is a saying or motto such as "People
come first in our company." It is used in a negative way, to say
that everyone says it, but not everyone really believes what is said is
Are you aware that identity theft is becoming a big problem.
To do this, criminals go through your garbage to find visa slips, bank
statments, and then apply for cards in your name.
to work around something
The problem we have is not easily solved and perhaps never can be
completely solved, so we "work around" the problem
(avoid it somehow and still get the job done. The solution we use is
called a "work around."
to lay on a big spread (table)
This idiom is used for large celebrations and parties. "To
lay on" means to put out a big meal for everyone to enjoy. The
meal itself in the second idiom is called "the spread."
to count yourself among (to be a part of a group of people
with the same opinion as your own)
I count myself among the people who reduce, reuse, and
an appetite for change
In the late 1980's many countries had an appetite for change.
In Europe, East Germany, for example, had this appetite and threw out
the Communists and replaced them with a democracy.
to cross the line
There are a number of variations on this idiom. President Bush says,
"This is the line in the sand." He means this is as
much as we will accept or else.
In your house, your "line" is your limit of
acceptable behaviour. For example, what you will or will not allow your
children to do. What we say is "Where do you draw the line
with your children?" What we mean is what will you accept and not
accept from them?
a Quiz on the above idioms.
Pop Out; The Ear Plays; The Nose Leads
give someone the eye
Were you giving that pretty girl the eye? Oh you bad
have an eye for
He has an eye for value. He never pays too much for anything
he buys. He is able to correctly judge things.
turn up one's nose at
He always turns up his nose at his children's homework. This
is a Chinese parent's example. Usually, we use this expression for
anything we don't like.
turn a deaf ear to
The son-in-law turned a deaf ear to his mother-in-law's
get the eye
The teenagers got the eye from the manager of the 7-11 when
they came in the door.
eyes in the back of your head
Mothers are famous for having eyes in the back of their heads.
It is like a woman can see even though she has her back to her son. She
knows when he is naughty.
eyes pop out
His eyes popped out when his dad gave him a new Civic.
lead by the nose
The wife leads the husband by the nose, though often
she will wait until after she gets married to begin.
under one's nose
My son says where is my textbook. I say it's right under your nose,
why don't you look for yourself!
make eyes at
The young man made eyes at the pretty girl across the room.
This is also called "flirting." A person who flirts is a flirt
a quiz on Eyes, Ears, Nose Idioms
Sample Dialogue using Idioms
Situation: Two friends hiking in the mountains.
Brad: You know, John, we should head back soon!
John: Don't worry, it's a piece of cake. We can make it to the
top of the mountain easily!
Brad: Not really. We should face up to it. We left too late
today. We won't be able to get there in time.
John: I know how you feel, like we're in over our heads this
time, but trust me, it won't be any trouble.
Brad: No dice! I don't know about you, but I'm heading back
John: Alright, already! Take it easy! I'll come too. Don't make a
face about it, I agree. Let's just go on for another ten minutes,
until we get to the next ridge, okay?
Brad: Okay, but I really wish you weren't such a hot dog about
hiking so far all the time. I don't think it's safe to hike home in the
Let's Face It! (February 15)
Let's face it, we have no money! The idiom means to accept
something as it is now.
Don't make a face, the medicine is bitter, but it will help
you and it won't taste so bad in a short time.
If you make a poker face other people cannot know your
emotion, neither happy nor sad.
A stone face is usually an angry face.
A horse face is usually an ugly face (often a woman).
Let's meet face to face (f2f) because in e-mail I don't know
After the husband argued with his wife, he sure had a long face.
Oh my, he sure had egg on his face after he said that. To have
egg on your face is to be embarrassed about something.
The bank robber had to face the music. To accept your
punishment for a crime (anyone, including speeders).
Knock on wood; it is unlucky to say something, so people
actually knock on something made of wood to push away the bad luck.
He said he was a rich man, but I couldn’t take what he said at
face value. So, face value is an indication of how much we
can trust what someone tells us. If we accept at face value we
On the face of it, I think he was telling me the truth, but
I'm not sure. I have some information, but incomplete, so I can't tell
you whether it can be trusted.
He was in my face so much today. Really, I had to tell him to get
out of my face! He was teasing or bothering or bugging me and I told
him to stop.
You know, son, you are in a lot of trouble. You'll have to face
down your problem. You'll also have to face up to your
punishment. You can face down someone.
My car burned in my driveway one September. To put a brave face on
it, the ICBC claim was probably more than someone would have paid me
for that old car.
Wipe that smile right off your face! (The mother is telling
the boy that she doesn't think what he did was funny at all.)
a Quiz on the Face Idioms
Your Head Around This! (February 8)
My friend called to say he won one million on BC 49. I said, Give me
a minute, I'm trying to wrap my head around that! So to wrap
your head around some idea or news means that you cannot understand
it, but you are trying really hard to do so.
She is beautiful from head to toe. (She has no bad qualities,
You may be in over your head! John was in over his head
on the Mathematics 12 Final Examination, so he got only 54%.
I racked my brain over the problem. I was trying very hard to
remember, but I was having lots of difficulty.
Let's head out after we eat dinner and go to see "Black
Hawk Down" at Metrotown. The people in this example will travel to
the mall to see the movie after dinner.
Thanks for the heads up! If you hadn't told me, I would have
made that same mistake again. So, a heads up is a kind of advice
or reminder about some problem or mistake that may embarrass you. Your
friend helps you to avoid that by giving you a heads up!
Head back, before it is too late! It will be dark soon and you
should not be on the mountain trail because you will not be able to see.
Head back means "return" to where you started from.
Let's head in to shore, before the wind gets any stronger.
Later, we can head back to the parking lot, after the wind dies
Keep your head down, the teacher is coming! In this case, you
don't want the teacher to notice you (you misbehaving student, perhaps)
and so your friend has warned you to stop what you were doing.
Keep your chin up! Everything will be okay. Don't be sad,
because soon it will all work itself out. (all the problems will be
When will you head off on your vacation, Brad? When are you heading
off on your vacation, Brad? Both the above mean leave for somewhere.
Where are you heading (to) this year for your vacation, Brad?
Hawaii. Where will you head to this year? In this case, it is the
destination you will go for the vacation.
A heavy head means a sleepy head, which is difficult to hold up
with your hands. A heavy heart is a sad heart, but not
necessarily a broken heart. Broken is in love; heavy is from any
idioms from the January 25 class:
It's not what you know, it's who you know. This is a saying
that explains how it is most important to get to know local people if
you wish to get into our job market.
The dog days of summer. Theresa says that these are the
hottest days of the summer. To explain, a very hot dog is a sad looking
dog with a tongue lolling out and panting uncomfortably.
He is a hot dog! He just skied down the hardest run at top
speed and jumped up and turned 360 degrees and landed safely. The girls
That will happen when pig's fly! It is never going to happen.
That's my bread and butter. In a Time Magazine article
software is described as bread and butter. For example Microsoft's bread
and butter software is Windows.
It's a piece of cake! Studying English is NOT a piece of
cake. For the hot dog skier, skiing fast is a piece of
cake. It is very easy if it's a piece of cake.
No dice! Say this when you mean NO, NEVER, NO WAY.
He is like a fish out of water. A new immigrant often feels
like a fish out of water. Often, Hollywood movies use this
kind of story for fun. For example the Fresh
Prince of Belair on TV has a black family living in a rich
neighbourhood. It's a comedy.
I wasn't born yesterday! It's often when someone says
something obvious to us and we are insulted by them. Not every culture
would say such a thing, even if the person said something stupid.
Fill-in-the-blank quiz on these idioms.
There are "questions as to whether the influential
U.S. economy was actually turning a corner . . . ." (from
The Globe and Mail)
"turn a corner" is a kind of metaphor. It means, here, that
the U.S. economy will again grow. The idea in the metaphor is of a
change in direction in a positive manner.