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Toe vs. Tow the Line

A pair of listeners from Memphis, Tennessee, disagree about an expression that means “to conform to a standard” or “to adhere to a rule.” Is it toe the line or tow the line? The correct phrase is toe the line. Picture...

When Pigs Fly (episode #1571)

Don’t move my cheese! It’s a phrase middle managers use to talk about adapting to change in the workplace. Plus, the origin story of the name William, and why it’s Guillermo in Spanish. And a five-year-old poses a question that...

Throw Out the Baby with the Bathwater

A lecturer in business law in St. Cloud, Minnesota, is astonished to discover his students are unfamiliar with throw the baby out with the bathwater, meaning “to accidentally get rid of the good while getting rid of the bad.” You can...

I Don’t Know Him from Adam

The phrase “I don’t know him from Adam” suggests that if the person were standing next to the person in Western tradition thought to be earliest human being, the two would be indistinguishable. The phrase “I don’t know...

Slide in on a Shrimp Sandwich

In English, we might say that someone born to a life of luxury was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. In Swedish, though, the image is different. Someone similarly spoiled is said to “slide in on a shrimp sandwich.” For more...

Colorful Idioms

If you say to someone the Spanish equivalent of “you’re giving me green gray hairs” (me sacas canas verdes), it means that person is making you angry. In Japan, the phrase that literally translates as “one red dot”...

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