Etiquette Hell

A Civil World. Off-topic discussions on a variety of topics. Guests, register for forum membership to see all the boards. => Time For a Coffee Break! => Topic started by: Clara Bow on August 07, 2010, 03:00:53 AM

Title: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: Clara Bow on August 07, 2010, 03:00:53 AM
I was ridiculously busy at work Wednesday night...one of those nights where you want to choke anyone who sneers that night shift nurses have it easier than day shift. I had four patients with "I need you RIGHT NOW" issues (real ones...not perceived either. It was a zoo). I ran into a patient's room to get his IV going and told him that I would be back as soon as I could to bring him his oral meds but I had a "couple fires to put out first". As in, the phrase...not literal fires. Think "irons in the fire".

When I returned he said "You have to put out fires up here? What room was it?"

*facepalm* Oops. I had to explain that I meant the old phrase "putting out fires" as in "busy", not "Backdraft".

Anyone have a story about a time an old saying backfired (pun semi-intended) on you?
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: Scritzy on August 07, 2010, 03:08:04 AM
Years ago, my [then] massage therapist asked how I'd liked my vacation.

I said, "Oh, it was great, but I stepped in an ant bed as soon as I got back to work."

("Stepped in an ant bed" meaning as soon as I walked in, I was swarmed with work from all sides. Maybe not as common a saying ...)

Her reply: "Oh my gosh! Are you all right? How many stings did you get?"

Edited to correct typo.
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: KenveeB on August 07, 2010, 09:28:43 AM
A coworker uses the phrase "killing rats" in the same meaning of "putting out fires."  I was boggling the first time I heard that!
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: FoxPaws on August 07, 2010, 09:36:47 AM
A coworker uses the phrase "killing rats" in the same meaning of "putting out fires."  I was boggling the first time I heard that!
They let you play games at work? 8)
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: KenveeB on August 07, 2010, 09:39:25 AM
A coworker uses the phrase "killing rats" in the same meaning of "putting out fires."  I was boggling the first time I heard that!
They let you play games at work? 8)

Everything but Scrabble! ;)
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: Everlee on August 07, 2010, 10:43:02 AM
When I was little and my mom would give me a bath she'd always say "Skin a rabbit!" when I'd take a bath.  Everyone in my family does it. The first time my husband ever heard me tell our daughter to "skin her rabbit" he about flipped out and told me to stop saying it.
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: stargazer on August 07, 2010, 10:56:33 AM
When I was little and my mom would give me a bath she'd always say "Skin a rabbit!" when I'd take a bath.  Everyone in my family does it. The first time my husband ever heard me tell our daughter to "skin her rabbit" he about flipped out and told me to stop saying it.


I have never heard this phrase - what does it mean?
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: DangerMouth on August 07, 2010, 11:00:14 AM
Hah, this just happened. I used the phrase "busier than a one-armed paper-hanger" and my friend not only had never heard that before, but argued that a one-armed paper-hanger probably wasn't getting much business ;D
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: Sharnita on August 07, 2010, 11:22:11 AM
I was describing Douglas MacArthur to my freshmen students and mentioned that he had a huge ego.  From the reaction I got from the students they didn't know what "ego" meant but were erroneously speculating and were shocked that I'd disclose that to them.
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: nutraxfornerves on August 07, 2010, 11:40:29 AM
I had a coworker for whom English was not a first language. He was very fluent, but occasionally got tripped up by idioms. One day the boss asked if we had any items for his weekly report to the bigwigs. My colleague wanted to say that he was rather in between project at the moment. However, instead of saying "I have no irons in the fire," he told the boss "I have nothing on the ball."
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: kherbert05 on August 07, 2010, 12:06:04 PM
I grew up in an idiom rich enviroment. Both Texans and PEI Islanders have a rich language. I get that my ESL students don't have idioms, but even my students with generations of English-speaking relatives don't have them. Here are a few that have resulted in confusion

Sit down or I'm lowering the boom on you. (Kid actually thought I would hit him)

What's wrong with Shank's Mare (SP) (Student lived NEXT DOOR to the school and was late repeatedly because the car wouldn't start. )

Your about to take a long walk off a short pier.

Not at school but in public - A young relative was driving all the other kids nuts. I told him keep it up and I'll kill you resurrect you and kill you all over again. Person objected not to me "threatening to kill" child but to usurping God's roll by threatening to resurrect him

Unique to my family - Keep it up and I'll kick your rear to PEI and (relative) will kick it back to Texas.

Dad (Texan) to Uncle "The girls are fixen to drive me to Brudenel want to come play a round?"

Uncle (Islander) is something wrong with Mom's car?

*BTW if you are ever on PEI don't miss http://www.tourismpei.com/provincial-park/brudenell-river . It is a Provincial park with fantastic golf, and swimming.
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: schnauzermom on August 07, 2010, 12:22:06 PM
When I was little and my mom would give me a bath she'd always say "Skin a rabbit!" when I'd take a bath.  Everyone in my family does it. The first time my husband ever heard me tell our daughter to "skin her rabbit" he about flipped out and told me to stop saying it.


I have never heard this phrase - what does it mean?

My mom used to tell me that to :) without clothes on a child looks like a rabbit that has been prepared for cooking I think I could be wrong.
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: Scritzy on August 07, 2010, 02:26:49 PM
I just remembered another one, this one similar to AV's.

When I was in newspaper, land of unreal deadlines, the phrase "fire drill" meant something that had to get done right now because we were leaning on a deadline.

One day I remarked to a friend that I was really tired because my workday had been nothing but fire drills.

She said, "The fire alarm kept going off? That must have been disruptive!"
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: Hillia on August 07, 2010, 02:31:19 PM
A favorite of mine: when you're overwhelmed and confused, you don't know if you're afoot or on horseback.

I don't say this much anymore because I'm afraid of negative racial possibilities: when it's been a long time since something's happened, it's been a coon's age.  I always understood that to be the furry animal with the ring tail, but I've had one or two people look mildly shocked, so I leave it alone now.

My mom used to refer to 'donkey dust' when someone was full of it.  She would also tell us we were full of beans when we were being silly and giddy.
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: Everlee on August 07, 2010, 03:01:05 PM
When I was little and my mom would give me a bath she'd always say "Skin a rabbit!" when I'd take a bath.  Everyone in my family does it. The first time my husband ever heard me tell our daughter to "skin her rabbit" he about flipped out and told me to stop saying it.


I have never heard this phrase - what does it mean?

My mom used to tell me that to :) without clothes on a child looks like a rabbit that has been prepared for cooking I think I could be wrong.

We always said it when a kid was taking their clothes off.  When I get them ready for their baths I tell them to go skin their rabbits and they start ripping them off.
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: Linley on August 07, 2010, 05:03:33 PM
In the sam spirit as Nutrax's, someone I am working with, who is not a native English speaker, told us all the other day that he would be out of pocket on certain days when he meant out of town or out of contact.
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: Hillia on August 07, 2010, 05:57:16 PM
In the sam spirit as Nutrax's, someone I am working with, who is not a native English speaker, told us all the other day that he would be out of pocket on certain days when he meant out of town or out of contact.

I've used out of pocket many times...not only am I not at work, I won't be reachable; for example, if I'm going camping and won't have cell service. 
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: Brentwood on August 07, 2010, 05:59:15 PM
In the sam spirit as Nutrax's, someone I am working with, who is not a native English speaker, told us all the other day that he would be out of pocket on certain days when he meant out of town or out of contact.

"Out of pocket" does mean out of contact (in addition to meaning expenses paid for out of one's own resources).
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: Kaora on August 07, 2010, 07:57:39 PM
A single word here, cattacorner.  Not sure the origins of that one, it means diagnol, and is common here.  However, bf, a Floridian, gave me the weirdest look saying it.
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: DangerMouth on August 07, 2010, 08:05:56 PM
A single word here, cattacorner.  Not sure the origins of that one, it means diagnol, and is common here.  However, bf, a Floridian, gave me the weirdest look saying it.

We say 'kittycorner' up north.
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: KenveeB on August 07, 2010, 08:10:27 PM
A single word here, cattacorner.  Not sure the origins of that one, it means diagnol, and is common here.  However, bf, a Floridian, gave me the weirdest look saying it.

We say 'kittycorner' up north.

I say "cattycorner". :)
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: Kaymyth on August 07, 2010, 10:37:59 PM
A single word here, cattacorner.  Not sure the origins of that one, it means diagnol, and is common here.  However, bf, a Floridian, gave me the weirdest look saying it.

We say 'kittycorner' up north.

I say "cattycorner". :)

As do I, though my brain has always wanted to spell it "cat-e-corner".  Really does make you wonder about the etymology of that one.
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: katycoo on August 08, 2010, 01:21:49 AM
A favorite of mine: when you're overwhelmed and confused, you don't know if you're afoot or on horseback.

For me, this one is not knowing whether you're Arthur or Martha.
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: squeakers on August 08, 2010, 04:17:57 AM
A single word here, cattacorner.  Not sure the origins of that one, it means diagnol, and is common here.  However, bf, a Floridian, gave me the weirdest look saying it.

We say 'kittycorner' up north.

I say "cattycorner". :)

As do I, though my brain has always wanted to spell it "cat-e-corner".  Really does make you wonder about the etymology of that one.

M-W.com says: kitty-corner alteration of cater-corner, from obsolete "cater"= four  + corner
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: Kaora on August 08, 2010, 04:18:17 AM
A single word here, cattacorner.  Not sure the origins of that one, it means diagnol, and is common here.  However, bf, a Floridian, gave me the weirdest look saying it.

We say 'kittycorner' up north.

I say "cattycorner". :)

As do I, though my brain has always wanted to spell it "cat-e-corner".  Really does make you wonder about the etymology of that one.

Maybe fuzzballs who lived diagonally to each other?  ;D
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: DangerMouth on August 08, 2010, 08:46:21 AM
A single word here, cattacorner.  Not sure the origins of that one, it means diagnol, and is common here.  However, bf, a Floridian, gave me the weirdest look saying it.

We say 'kittycorner' up north.

I say "cattycorner". :)

As do I, though my brain has always wanted to spell it "cat-e-corner".  Really does make you wonder about the etymology of that one.

M-W.com says: kitty-corner alteration of cater-corner, from obsolete "cater"= four  + corner

Thank you!

As to being confused, one of my favorite sayings (tho obviously I don't get to use it much is "he didn't know whether it was Donkey's Patoot or breakfast time" It's just so.. random.
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: jaxsue on August 08, 2010, 09:10:00 AM
I was describing Douglas MacArthur to my freshmen students and mentioned that he had a huge ego.  From the reaction I got from the students they didn't know what "ego" meant but were erroneously speculating and were shocked that I'd disclose that to them.

Was english their first language? Ego is such a basic word.  ???
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: jaxsue on August 08, 2010, 09:15:13 AM
My boss is Israeli and 99% of my coworkers are from Central/South America. My boss speaks Hebrew and Russian fluently, but struggles with English.

I have to be careful how I use idioms, because they will usually stare blankly at me or take what I say literally. It is sometimes pretty funny.  :)

Meanwhile, all 2 of us who are born in the US and speak English fluently can speak entirely in idioms and no one has any idea what we're talking about. (FTR, this is rare and we're not doing it to exclude anyone; it is quite accidental)
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: Giggity on August 08, 2010, 09:16:35 AM
When I was little and my mom would give me a bath she'd always say "Skin a rabbit!" when I'd take a bath.  Everyone in my family does it. The first time my husband ever heard me tell our daughter to "skin her rabbit" he about flipped out and told me to stop saying it.

In my family, "skin the cat" is how we tell the little ones to strip down for bath time. Or if we're helping them, usually we say it while we pull the shirt off over their head.
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: Sharnita on August 08, 2010, 12:01:33 PM
I was describing Douglas MacArthur to my freshmen students and mentioned that he had a huge ego.  From the reaction I got from the students they didn't know what "ego" meant but were erroneously speculating and were shocked that I'd disclose that to them.

Was english their first language? Ego is such a basic word.  ???

ENglish is their lahgugae but urban dialect, if you will.  There is a lot of vocabulary that seems basic until you notice the balnk expression - kids don't always ask.  It is actually one ot the frustrations of standardized testing.  The test question is phrased in a way that is unfamiliar to the kisd and if it were phrased differently they would know the answer.
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: jaxsue on August 08, 2010, 12:06:39 PM
A single word here, cattacorner.  Not sure the origins of that one, it means diagnol, and is common here.  However, bf, a Floridian, gave me the weirdest look saying it.

We say 'kittycorner' up north.

Yep (Northern MI)
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: Kaora on August 08, 2010, 01:24:21 PM
A single word here, cattacorner.  Not sure the origins of that one, it means diagnol, and is common here.  However, bf, a Floridian, gave me the weirdest look saying it.

We say 'kittycorner' up north.

Yep (Northern MI)

Mojave Desert, CA here. :)
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: Cellardoor14 on August 08, 2010, 02:23:05 PM
When I was little and my mom would give me a bath she'd always say "Skin a rabbit!" when I'd take a bath.  Everyone in my family does it. The first time my husband ever heard me tell our daughter to "skin her rabbit" he about flipped out and told me to stop saying it.
In my family, "skin the cat" is how we tell the little ones to strip down for bath time. Or if we're helping them, usually we say it while we pull the shirt off over their head.

Same here- and it's all one word, "Skinacat!"

I've used "A day late and a dollar short" here in the UK to blank stares, and I'm sure my American friends and family don't quite get "It's gone all pear-shaped."
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: nutraxfornerves on August 08, 2010, 02:59:52 PM
I participate i an online forum that discusses language on a rather casual level. Recently, a 13 year old from India asked for the meaning of "one horse town" as it made no sense to him, a thoroughly urban lad.
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: Amava on August 08, 2010, 04:10:06 PM
In an online community I used to frequent, there was a majority of Americans and then some people from different European countries, like I'm from Belgium and this one friend, T, was from Country X.

He had already often been annoyed by people who did not know where Country X was or who thought it was a third world country or something.

One day, the following conversation takes place in the chat room:
T: Grrrr my connection broke again, my internet is so sucky!
K: (one of our American members): Aww yeah T., I know where you're coming from!
T: Look K, I'm sick and tired of you bashing my country. Just because my internet connection breaks doesn't mean Country X.  is behind on computers or something!
Everyone (except me): ???  :o ???
Me: (who knew immediately, due to being foreign myself, that T. had just misunderstood the phrase):
Um, T., K. just meant he knows how you feel, because his own comp breaks down often. That's what "I know where you're coming from" means.
Everyone else: Ah!
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: kennedar on August 08, 2010, 06:02:18 PM
When I was little and my mom would give me a bath she'd always say "Skin a rabbit!" when I'd take a bath.  Everyone in my family does it. The first time my husband ever heard me tell our daughter to "skin her rabbit" he about flipped out and told me to stop saying it.
In my family, "skin the cat" is how we tell the little ones to strip down for bath time. Or if we're helping them, usually we say it while we pull the shirt off over their head.

Same here- and it's all one word, "Skinacat!"

I've used "A day late and a dollar short" here in the UK to blank stares, and I'm sure my American friends and family don't quite get "It's gone all pear-shaped."

Pear-shaped is DH's favorite phrase. We are in Canada but have a close friend from the UK, so we hear lots of different phrases.
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: zyrs on August 09, 2010, 05:15:08 AM
Where I am from it is:

Kittycorner: the house diagonally across the street from you

Skin the Cat: while holding on to a overhead bar of some kind (pull-up, swing set side brace, etc) bring your legs through your arms and over your head so that you do a backwards kind of somersault in midair while still holding on to the bar with your hands, twisting your arms weird before you let go and land on your feet.  It has been many, many years since I have been able to "skin the cat".

Dressing Down/Gave a person a tongue lashing:  They did something you are very angry about and you are going to tell them what/why/how and make them feel incredibly guilty about ever doing anything like that again.  A lecture about why they are not going to do that again.

Coldcock:  To knock someone out with one hit, usually to the face.  The hit can be from a fist, flagpole or any impediment.

Unfortunately, to an ex-girlfriend "dressing down" meant taking off your clothes in order to put on your gym clothes, she had never heard "coldcock/ed"  so my story about how a guy at my Elementary school had been given a lecture by a teacher, felt bad about it and wasn't paying attention where he was going so he ran into a flagpole and knocked himself unconscious did not get the comprehension I expected.
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: Onyx_TKD on August 09, 2010, 10:15:15 AM
When I was little and my mom would give me a bath she'd always say "Skin a rabbit!" when I'd take a bath.  Everyone in my family does it. The first time my husband ever heard me tell our daughter to "skin her rabbit" he about flipped out and told me to stop saying it.
In my family, "skin the cat" is how we tell the little ones to strip down for bath time. Or if we're helping them, usually we say it while we pull the shirt off over their head.

Same here- and it's all one word, "Skinacat!"

I've used "A day late and a dollar short" here in the UK to blank stares, and I'm sure my American friends and family don't quite get "It's gone all pear-shaped."

I'm American and my family has no recent ties to the UK, but we use the phrase "It's gone pear-shaped," too.
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: DangerMouth on August 09, 2010, 10:18:55 AM
When I was little and my mom would give me a bath she'd always say "Skin a rabbit!" when I'd take a bath.  Everyone in my family does it. The first time my husband ever heard me tell our daughter to "skin her rabbit" he about flipped out and told me to stop saying it.
In my family, "skin the cat" is how we tell the little ones to strip down for bath time. Or if we're helping them, usually we say it while we pull the shirt off over their head.

Same here- and it's all one word, "Skinacat!"

I've used "A day late and a dollar short" here in the UK to blank stares, and I'm sure my American friends and family don't quite get "It's gone all pear-shaped."

I know 'pear-shaped' thanks to Terry Prachett.
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: 2littlemonkeys on August 09, 2010, 10:30:09 AM
Since ODD was about 4, I've had to explain most of these, LOL.  I'll be talking to Dh and drop an idiom.  She thinks I'm being literal and I have to explain that it's just an expression and what it means. 

My coworkers and I use the "fire drill" idiom to describe a flurry of activity that turned out to be for nothing.  "I am so sorry the Johnson report was such a fire drill. They told us they needed it right away but then decided it could wait until next week."
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: Jaelle on August 09, 2010, 01:25:26 PM
Hehehe ... DH, master of pithy sayings, while sitting at an office in OurCity, works closely in concert with an office of folks in India. It's been educational on both sides. They teach him about cricket, he teaches them about hockey.  :)   He uses American idiom constantly, then has to explain himself with sometimes comedic results.

The one I can think of off-hand happened recently, when the resident graphic artist presented him with a really great graphic to go with a story. DH replied (via computer chat), "Thanks, (name)! You rock!"

Lengthy pause. Then the reply: "Thank you. You also rock."

He has better stories. I'll ask him tonight for a few more.

Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: Outdoor Girl on August 09, 2010, 01:36:12 PM
I trained with a girl who, although Canadian, grew up all over the world because her father was in the diplomatic corp.  We'd use cultural references all the time that we'd have to explain.  Things from TV shows, mostly.

My mother had some doozies for expressions.  In fact, I included a lot of them in a memorial cookbook I put together.

'Getting up at sparrowfart' meant getting up really early.

'If clues were shoes, you'd go barefoot' meant you'd done something particularly boneheaded.

'Flatter than pee on a plate' meant someone was feeling really low.

'I'm so hungry I could eat the east end of a skunk headed west'.
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: Marisol on August 09, 2010, 01:41:39 PM
Years ago, my [then] massage therapist asked how I'd liked my vacation.

I said, "Oh, it was great, but I stepped in an ant bed as soon as I got back to work."

("Stepped in an ant bed" meaning as soon as I walked in, I was swarmed with work from all sides. Maybe not as common a saying ...)

Her reply: "Oh my gosh! Are you all right? How many stings did you get?"

Edited to correct typo.

If anyone in my circle of friends said that I would take them literally.  Especially because a few of them work outside for a living.  

Edit to add:


My grandma used the phrase "it must have been a lie" all the time when she forgot what she was just about to say.  I've taken up the habit and say it occasionally in tribute to her, but now I am careful who I say it to.  I had a few people who never heard the phrase ask me why in the world I was going to lie to them and what was the lie going to be about.  I had to explain the phrase.
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: Kaora on August 09, 2010, 03:17:36 PM
Outdoor Girl, I love those.  Well, I will, after this coke is off the keyboard... ;D
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: Squeaks on August 09, 2010, 03:30:30 PM
I offered a client coffee once and asked how he wanted, he said "hot sweet and blond" (it may have been just sweet and blond) I privately rolled my eyes and got him black coffee with sugar only.  I figured that out.  But he was a bit annoyed at the lack of cream, I guess that is the blond part. . .  it went over my head.

Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: Elfqueen13 on August 09, 2010, 03:31:11 PM
A favorite of mine: when you're overwhelmed and confused, you don't know if you're afoot or on horseback.

For me, this one is not knowing whether you're Arthur or Martha.

A friend of mine says "I don't know if I've found a rope or lost a horse!".  She works with horses so maybe it's a "horse person" thing.
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: Shea on August 09, 2010, 04:39:38 PM
I once worked on a guest ranch where one of the wranglers was from Eastern Europe. His English was quite good but he had a tendency to either make up idioms on the spot or translate them from his native Russian, which often left us native English speakers with blank looks. My favorite was the time we were trying to make one of the donkeys go back into the corral from which it had cleverly escaped. The donkey refused to move no matter what we did, so finally he dropped the lead rope, threw up his hands and said, "I give up! He is too donkey!". The rest of the time we were there, all the staff referred to stubborn things as "donkey".
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: guihong on August 09, 2010, 04:58:09 PM
When I was in school, I befriended a graduate student from eastern Europe.  She once asked how I was, and I told her I had a monkey on my back.  She looked at my back in a puzzled way.  I had to explain it meant I was worried or concerned about something.

gui
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: nutraxfornerves on August 09, 2010, 05:03:23 PM
When I was in school, I befriended a graduate student from eastern Europe.  She once asked how I was, and I told her I had a monkey on my back.  She looked at my back in a puzzled way.  I had to explain it meant I was worried or concerned about something.
Jus goes to show how phrases can have different meanings. I'd be very alarmed if a friend told me "I have a monkey on my back," because to me it means a drug addiction, especially to something serious like heroin.
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: high dudgeon on August 09, 2010, 05:20:01 PM
I've used "A day late and a dollar short" here in the UK to blank stares, and I'm sure my American friends and family don't quite get "It's gone all pear-shaped."

I've heard British tv characters use it and the meaning is quite clear. But I have no idea where the expression came from. What's wrong with pears or with being pear shaped? What shape is it good to be?
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: hobish on August 09, 2010, 05:23:27 PM
When I was in school, I befriended a graduate student from eastern Europe.  She once asked how I was, and I told her I had a monkey on my back.  She looked at my back in a puzzled way.  I had to explain it meant I was worried or concerned about something.
Jus goes to show how phrases can have different meanings. I'd be very alarmed if a friend told me "I have a monkey on my back," because to me it means a drug addiction, especially to something serious like heroin.

That is what I would have thought, too.
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: high dudgeon on August 09, 2010, 05:28:25 PM
Regarding the "monkey on my back" expression, it does have addiction connotations to me too, but not necessarily serious ones. The "monkey" could just as easily be cigarettes, caffeine or book buying, not necessarily heroin. Never heard it used in a non-addiction context before.
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: Rosgrana on August 09, 2010, 05:29:06 PM
I once used the phrase "...may all his rabbits die!" about someone, and then spent ages explaining to an ESOL speaker that, no, AFAIK he didn't actually have any rabbits, that no, I didn't really wish harm to him or any livestock he owned, and that it was simply a humorous way of expressing envy of a piece of good fortune he'd had.

Ever after, whenever I mentioned him, she would say, "Ah yes, Herbert. He is the one who has no rabbits, yes?"
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: Elfmama on August 09, 2010, 05:50:58 PM
Now, you see, I would have thought that "may all of his rabbits die" meant "may ALL of his girlfriends announce his impending fatherhood at once!"
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: guihong on August 09, 2010, 06:02:41 PM
It wasn't until this thread that I learned that "monkey on my back" had anything to do with addiction.  Maybe some expressions are regional in a large country.
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: Squeaks on August 09, 2010, 06:04:55 PM
Now, you see, I would have thought that "may all of his rabbits die" meant "may ALL of his girlfriends announce his impending fatherhood at once!"

Yeah that is the meaning i was familiar with.

If i had know it was about jealousy i have thought they were wishing them fertility and lots of kids.

So wanna see "my all your rabbits die" pop up as a bad wedding toast  >:D
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: DangerMouth on August 09, 2010, 06:43:20 PM
Now, you see, I would have thought that "may all of his rabbits die" meant "may ALL of his girlfriends announce his impending fatherhood at once!"

Yeah that is the meaning i was familiar with.

If i had know it was about jealousy i have thought they were wishing them fertility and lots of kids.

So wanna see "my all your rabbits die" pop up as a bad wedding toast  >:D

Well, now it would be "may all your sticks turn blue" ;P
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: Corvid on August 09, 2010, 07:36:04 PM
Quote
one of those nights where you want to choke anyone who sneers that night shift nurses have it easier than day shift.

What idiot thinks that?

I think kittycorner is an offshoot of cattycorner (kitty=cat), but the word is actually catercorner, which I believe is French.

I have no idea why I know that.  I'm a font of useless information.
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: 3grey on August 09, 2010, 09:24:10 PM


I've certainly received some odd looks when I use a saying of my grandmother's when she was very hungry, "My stomach thinks my throat's been cut! "

And my Mom's, "Round Robin Hood's barn" to mean the long way round or the "scenic" route.


Let's see, and most people have no idea what I'm talking about if I mention the car went into the borrow pit,   -   the ditch at the side of the road.   It's old mining lingo.


                                 3grey




Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: girlysprite on August 10, 2010, 12:34:00 AM
Outdoor Girl, I love those.  Well, I will, after this coke is off the keyboard... ;D

And another fine example for me ;) Where I come from, the drink is called 'Cola'. Coke is that white powder. So sometimes I have to translate a bit when people comment like 'snorts coke through her nose'. Or in your case...yeah  ::). No, I know you mean the drink!  ;)
Title: Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
Post by: JonGirl on August 10, 2010, 06:06:44 AM


I once told my DH before we were married that was like a wombat, that he "eats roots and leaves".


 >:D