Month: March 2016

ear idioms

listen with half an ear — not giving your full attention to what is being said or played. I couldn’t find any history or stories about this phrase, which I guess is not surprising, since the meaning is pretty obvious. However, I did find a whole long list of idioms about the ear, though no history about these either. Here…

Easter eggs

These are decorated eggs often given to celebrate Easter or springtime. The oldest tradition is to use hard-boiled chicken eggs, dyed or painted, but a modern custom is to substitute chocolate eggs or plastic eggs filled with candy. Eggs are a traditional symbol of fertility and rebirth, which of course ties in with it being spring. However, there’s a modern…

Writing News

I’ve published a new short story called “Too Blue.” It’s a short satirical comment on prejudice. And it is very short — about a page and a half. I wanted to make this story free, but I only half succeeded. It’s free at Smashwords, but I discovered that Amazon has a bottom limit of 99 cents. Take your pick! 🙂…

by the skin of my teeth

Narrowly; barely; by an amount equal to the thickness of the (imaginary) skin on one’s teeth. Usually used in regard to a narrow escape from a disaster. “I escaped the burning building by the skin of my teeth. One more second in there and I’d have been toast.” The phrase first appears in English in the Geneva Bible, 1560, in…

Miscellanea

Out of the blue: without any warning or preparation. Variation: out of a clear blue sky. Give ‘em an inch and they’ll take a mile: people will take advantage of your generosity. What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander: the sexes should be treated in the same way and not be subjected to different standards. (John Ray’s…

cut the mustard

The phrase means to succeed; to have the ability to do something; to come up to expectations. A similar idiom is ‘be up to snuff.’ The phrase is probably more often used in the negative form, as ‘can’t cut the mustard,’ meaning ‘not able to handle the job.’ An older phrase is ‘to be the mustard’ (c. 1903) meaning ‘to…

cuts no ice

Cuts no ice means to have no influence or effect, doesn’t get the job done or impress anyone. The idiom was first recorded in the US in the 19th century. It may have been a figurative expression right from the start, based on the use of ice in many ways and playing on its hardness and coldness as a metaphor…