More Idioms Inspired By Geography

Mole with a magnifying glass on molehill182218664While we concentrated our efforts on the more positive expressions Mother Nature has inspired in our last installment, in this one we will turn our attention to a few of the negative ones. Here are a few examples of our favorites:

To Go Downhill
Although you might enjoy walking downhill – especially when you consider the opposite as the alternative! – when things go downhill they are generally deteriorating or otherwise worsening. English skills, for example, tend to go downhill without practice!

To Make a Mountain Out of a Molehill
The key to this idiom is to know what a molehill is – with that piece of information in mind this expression is actually pretty straightforward. That is because a molehill, the small pile of dirt created by mole while it digs, is rarely no larger than a watermelon (and nowhere near as large as a mountain). To make a mountain out of a molehill, then, is simply to blow things out of proportion or otherwise exaggerate your problems.

Once in a Blue Moon
Like the molehill, above, the meaning of this idiom revolves around the meaning of a piece of unusual vocabulary. The blue moon in question is the name given in English to phenomenon of having two full moons in a single calendar month – a rare occurrence that matches the meaning of the larger expression perfectly.

Over the Hill
The hill is a metaphor for life itself, with the top of the hill middle age and birth and death on either side. To be over the hill, then, is to have passed through both youth as well as middle age and headed towards the other end of life’s path.

Up the Creek
This idiom often appears in the three word form as above but also has a six word version that better explains its meaning: up the creek without a paddle. With that detail added – and the knowledge that a creek is a body of water – it should be pretty clear why this expression means “to be in trouble”.

Want more idioms inspired by geography? Check out other blog posts with an array of common idioms that will make you laugh!


Some Idioms are “Out of This World!”

Businessman resting on a cloud 450975151As part of our ongoing coverage of common English idioms, in recent weeks we have discussed idioms that come not only from people but also from animals. Having discussed the living inhabitants of the planet, then, it only makes sense to turn our attention to the planet itself. Here are some of the most common:

Dirt Cheap
It should come as no surprise that dirt – you know, that brown stuff we use to grow plants – is not the most expensive of commodities. Thus if something is “dirt cheap” (that is, as expensive as dirt) it is quite cheap indeed and probably a pretty good deal as well!

Down-To-Earth / Head in the Clouds
This descriptive pairing are, as you might have already guessed, opposites. The first, down-to-earth, means practical and relatable while the second, head in the cloud, is just the opposite: easily distracted and out of touch.

Out of the Woods
To best understand this idiom you have to imagine yourself lost in the woods without a compass, map, or –  gasp! – cell phone. Lost and confused, you would probably feel pretty scared wandering around in the unknown. Then again, you would probably feel pretty great once you found your way out – which goes a long way to explaining why this expression means “out of trouble”.

Out of This World
This idiom makes sense if you compare things that in this world to things that are, literally, out of it. Because we see things in this world all of the time they are pretty ordinary. Comparatively, though, things that are out of this world are, well, extraordinary.

To Win by a Landslide
Given that the landslide referred to in this idiom is a large, dramatic movement of earth and rocks similar to an avalanche, to win by one is no small thing. In fact, to win by a landslide is to get almost all of the votes, points, etc. Think 80-20 and you’re on the right on track.

Did you enjoy our post on which Idioms are “Out of This World!”? Catch up on what you might have missed – or just get extra practice – by visiting other idioms blogs!


Dog Day: Negative Animal Idioms

batty 92731879In much the same way that what goes up must come down, for all of the positive animal idioms there are just as much negative ones. Because these downbeat expressions are used just as much as their more optimistic cousins, we thought we would take the time to review some of the most common examples:

As Blind As a Bat
Associations with Batman aside, bats in general are not well-regarded in general. In addition to their popular perception as cave-dwelling, day-sleeping, rats with wings, however, they are also famous for their poor eyesight – a characteristic that goes a long way to explaining the meaning of this idiom. To be “as blind as a bat” is to be quite blind indeed!

A Copycat
To understand this one-word idiom it is important to put the emphasis more on the “copy” than on the “cat” because a “copycat” is someone who imitates, emulates, or otherwise “copies” the habits of someone else. Continue reading “Dog Day: Negative Animal Idioms”