Month: January 2018

hit below the belt / low blow

An unfair, underhanded tactic, from the sport of boxing, in which it is illegal to hit an opponent below the belt or waist. Both phrases are also applied to speech, where someone says something that is too personal, and often hurtful. A groin attack, or a ‘low blow,’ is a deliberate attempt to cause pain to one’s opponent. Often used…

duke it out / put up your dukes (fists)

Fight, or hit with the fists / invite to fight The connection between ‘dukes’ and ‘fists’ isn’t obvious at first glance, but it derives from Cockney rhyming slang: Duke of Yorks = forks = fingers/hands. In rhyming slang, the intended word is replaced by a phrase in which one word rhymes with it. A standard example is ‘china plate’ meaning…

off one’s rocker

Crazy, demented, silly, insane, out of control, behaving in a strange way. Similar phrases are: off one’s trolley, off one’s nut, off one’s head. This expression has been in use since the mid-1800s. Written examples: 1923 “The Duke is off his rocker.” The Inimitable Jeeves by Wodehouse. 1932 “It’s going to be awkward for us if the Emperor goes off…

beauty is only skin deep

Physical beauty is superficial. It tells us nothing about what’s under the skin. Similar phrases are: All that glitters is not gold. Appearances are deceptive. Internal reality is often different from external looks. Never judge by appearances. Never judge a book by its cover. The cowl does not make the monk. This proverb was first found in a work by…