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Tips and Tricks of well written English

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Common English Phrases
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Idioms - Idiosyncrasies or Idealisms?
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The Expletive Conundrum: To use or not to use?
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More Common Phrases

 

 

 

More Common English Phrases

According to the amount of positive feedback I've received regarding Common English Phrases, I thought it a great idea to add another page of these delightful English tidbits. Some of these may not be as widely used or well-known as the first group, but make no mistake about it they are wonderfully imaginative and above all else, fun to use.

My personal idea of how phrasing came about is through necessity. We all know the well known adage 'necessity is the mother of invention', and I do believe this quotation also spills over into the literary world. For every new phrase I come across, I imagine the circumstances of the person who first uttered the saying, and what trials or tribulations they were having in order to invent such a strange phrase. It makes the collecting and sorting and understanding of common English phrases even that much better! There's fun to be had by everyone within these gems of the 'not so mundane' literary genre!

As in my previous Common English Phrases submission, I will first give you the phrase, then explain it's real meaning. Some of these I have used quite often during my life, and some of them are newbie's to me.

I hail from Newfoundland which is a tiny island smack dab in the middle of the wild Atlantic Ocean, just off the east coast of Canada. As is the case with many Island folk, we seem to have our own language, modified down through the years by newer generations arriving from many other parts of the world. The result is a unique blend of the Newfoundlander's unmistakable 'Newfie Accent' spiced and flavored with many varied Irish, English, Scottish and French drawls stirred into the pot. To hear someone using this accent, popping out phrase after flamboyant phrase, is a treat for the eyes and ears!

I do believe Newfoundlanders sit atop the Talkative Tower when it comes to unique English phrases and the extreme number of situations in which we see fit to utter them! I can safely say there is 'nary a dull moment in the cosy kitchens of Newfoundlanders!'

Enjoy!
--

Flying by the seat of your pants
How nice it would be if our pants COULD fly us all over the world; think of all the money we'd save by not having to purchase plane tickets! But alas, your pants cannot fly. This phrase means going out on your own, breaking new ground, going where no man (or pants!) has gone before.
--

Pushing the envelope
How on earth do you push an envelope?? Push it where? Off the table, out the window, underneath the bed?? Stop contemplating and furrowing your brow over this one. Pushing the envelope means going the limit and beyond. It means taking bold chances and risking life and limb sometimes in doing so.
--

Wing and a prayer
Here's two odd things that you would think had nothing in common. But apparently during WW1 airplanes were still rather 'mythical' objects, very poorly constructed and sometimes only making it back to base by a 'wing and a prayer'. Travelling somewhere by a wing and a prayer means your method of transportation leaves a lot to be desired!
--

Dead ringer
Your telephone has not died! No need to call the ambulance! If someone tells you that you are a 'dead ringer' for someone else it means you look exactly like that other person. Of course depending on the person you are a dead ringer for, this could be a compliment or a terrible insult!
--

Dicey situation
Again, if you are embroiled in a dicey situation, there doesn't necessarily have to be a gambler in the room! Being in a dicey situation means facing a tense and/or potentially dangerous set of circumstances or predicaments. You are a risk.
--

Pass the buck
This doesn't have anything to do with either money or male deer. To pass the buck means to load your responsibilities onto someone else's shoulders. It's not a very nice thing to do!
--

Put my two cents in
Providing you have two cents or not, you do not have to put them into anything! Putting your two cents in simply means you are offering your opinion on the matter at hand.
--

Barking up the wrong tree
Oh please, stop barking at the dead pine tree...! It's never going to come back to life and provide you with an exquisite pine dining-room table! Ok, just kidding, barking up the wrong tree means you are following the wrong lead. You are off course and the answer to your problems can only be found in the opposite direction.
--

Flash in the pan
I don't think I've ever seen my pan flash or glow or exhibit fireworks of any kind! Course not since 'flash in the pan' simply means a wonderful idea that worked for all of FIVE minutes, if even that long, before losing it's grandeur and popularity.
--

Sitting Duck
Strange words no doubt, but not to the zippy, well mannered lady or gent that utters them! If your day is going 'hunky dory' everything is working out beautifully well for you. No worries, no troubles..everything is hunky dory.
--

Hunky dory
Strange words no doubt, but not to the zippy, well mannered lady or gent that utters them! If your day is going 'hunky dory' everything is working out beautifully well for you. No worries, no troubles..everything is hunky dory.
--

Bite the bullet
Ohhhhh, how awful, take that dirty bullet out of your mouth now!! I hope no one takes this phrase literally, because you should never bite down on a bullet! Biting the bullet means facing dire circumstances, dealing with them and moving on. Usually they are circumstances so terrible you learn a lesson and do not make the same mistake again.
--

Over the top
No it doesn't mean you've climbed a high elevation of any sort and come down the other side. Over the top means you've outdone yourself with something. Usually it is used in relation to a persons manner of dressing. If you hear someone whisper your 'outfit' is a little 'over the top' at a party, go to the powder room and tone it down!
--

Over the top
No it doesn't mean you've climbed a high elevation of any sort and come down the other side. Over the top means you've outdone yourself with something. Usually it is used in relation to a persons manner of dressing. If you hear someone whisper your 'outfit' is a little 'over the top' at a party, go to the powder room and tone it down!
--

Common English Phrases - Part 1

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