more teeth

The five ‘teeth’ idioms we covered last time aren’t the only ones, of course. The most popular idioms in the language have to do with the human body, and with the animals and plants that we used to deal with all the time in everyday life. Here are more. 6. Lie through your teeth. This usually means a lie told…

short stuff

Waste of skin — a person so worthless that it’s a shame they’re taking up perfectly good skin that some poor burn victim could be using  Waste of oxygen — see above Jump out of your skin — be extremely startled Save your own skin — protect yourself rather than trying to help other people Enough to curl your hair…

teeth

There are several phrases built around teeth, as is true for other of our body parts. Here are five of them. 1. Sink your teeth into: to become completely involved in something, or to work energetically at a task. The phrase is American in origin, and it’s easy to see where it came from. Sinking your teeth into something good…

devil-may-care

Another ‘devil’ expression, meaning reckless, careless, light-hearted. This phrase is part of a longer idiom: ‘The devil may care, but I do not.’ Some dictionaries state that the first published use of the expression was 1837, though none of them give a reference source to support the claim.  However, it appears in The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens, which was…

speak of the devil!

A reference to the coincidence of someone who appears unexpectedly while being talked about. The phrase is the short form of the idiom, “Speak of the devil and he doth appear.” It’s used when an object or person being discussed unexpectedly becomes present during the conversation. It can also be used about any topic that suddenly becomes relevant. The proverb…

throw for a loop

Originally, to strike a person hard; nowadays, to shock, surprise, astonish, amaze, stun, or bewilder someone. ‘Knock for a loop’ which preceded ‘throw for a loop’ and might be related to ‘could have knocked me over with a feather.’ Google Ngrams shows ‘knocked for a loop’ appearing around 1918, and “thrown for a loop” around 1945. Originally this American expression…

devil’s advocate

Figuratively, someone who takes a contrary position for the sake of testing an argument, or just to be perverse. The original Devil’s Advocate was a real person with a real job. During the canonization process employed by the Roman Catholic Church, the Promoter of the Faith (Latin: promotor fidei), popularly known as the Devil’s advocate (Latin: advocatus diaboli), was a…