ABC’s of Idioms


February 20, 2018 | Written by Canyon Creative

Without Further Ado...

We often use idioms in every-day language. But what are they? An idiom is an expression that doesn’t make sense when taken literally. For example, did a cat really get someone’s tongue? And, who counts chickens before they’re hatched? Or, can something really cost an arm and a leg. Gruesome.

We started thinking, where did these ridiculous phrases come from? What’s their story? So, we decided to bring you the ABC’s of Idioms, a blog series that sheds some light on commonly heard and used idioms and where they originated.

Of the highest in quality – very good.
Origin: Highest grading in the scale on which the condition of a ship and its cargo is rated for Lloyd’s register.

Achilles’ heel 
A person’s single weakness, a way in which they can be injured or defeated.
Origin: From the legendary Greek hero, Achilles, who as a baby, was dipped into the River Styx to make him unbeatable. When dipped, his mother was holding on to his heel which did not get dipped into the river and so remained the only part of him to be unprotected. He was killed by an arrow to his heel.

“Without further ado” – without more work, ceremony, or fuss. 
Origin: Late 1300s, this idiom has one of the few surviving uses of the noun ado, meaning: what is being done.”

“Much ado about nothing” – a big fuss over something minute, making a big deal out of something that does not make a difference.
Origin: Early 1500s, even before the well-known use of Shakespeare’s play “Much Ado About Nothing.” The phrase was being used to describe a big commotion or trouble.

“Thin air” – nowhere, unexpected, or seems like it came out of nowhere, appearing suddenly and dramatically. 
Origin: First used as a Shakespearean quote from the play “The Tempest.”

“Clear the air” – get rid of all doubts and negative feelings, clear any misunderstandings, clarify. 
Origin: The phrase literally refers to the sun and winds clearing the air of dust and clouds after a storm. In the figurative sense, John Wyclif first used it in one of his works in 1380.

“make amends” do something to improve the situation after doing something wrong.
Origin: From the old French word for a monetary fine.

[stay classy, San Diego ;)]
A person whom the success of an activity depends; on TV, the person who is responsible for smooth discussion between other people.
Origin: Literally the person at the back of a team competing in tug-of-war.

"Whet someone’s appetite” – make someone eager to have more of something.
Origin: Literally to increase someone’s desire for food.

Apple of someone’s eye
Person or thing, which is greatly loved by someone.
Origin: Originally a term for the pupil of the eye.

"Long arm of the law” – the extensive influence of the authorities, the vast strength of the law enforcement and legal system. 
Origin: Originated as “Kings have long arms” in 1539 referring to their ruling. The current version was first used in 1908.

"Having an axe to grind” – to have a personal, often selfish, reason for being involved in something.
Origin: Ben Franklin story.

Stay-tuned (origin: from the operation of dial-tuned radio receivers) to our next edition where we will “B” exploring the next letter of the alphabet.

Written by Canyon Creative

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