Author Topic: When A Common Phrase Isn't....  (Read 5153 times)

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Clara Bow

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When A Common Phrase Isn't....
« on: August 07, 2010, 04:00:53 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?
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Scritzy

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Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2010, 04:08:04 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.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2010, 03:19:16 PM by Scritzy »
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KenveeB

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Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2010, 10:28:43 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!

FoxPaws

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Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2010, 10:36:47 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!
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KenveeB

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Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2010, 10:39:25 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!
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Everlee

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Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2010, 11:43:02 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.

stargazer

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Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2010, 11:56:33 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?

DangerMouth

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Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2010, 12:00:14 PM »
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

Sharnita

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Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2010, 12:22:11 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.

nutraxfornerves

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Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2010, 12:40:29 PM »
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."

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kherbert05

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Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2010, 01:06:04 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.
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schnauzermom

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Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2010, 01:22:06 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.


Brock

Scritzy

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Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2010, 03:26:49 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!"
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Hillia

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Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2010, 03:31:19 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.

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Everlee

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Re: When A Common Phrase Isn't....
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2010, 04:01:05 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.