We have a lot of odd expressions and idioms in the English language. We use them every day to describe things and to let people
|know how we feel . . .but have you ever wondered where they came from? There are estimated to be at least 25,000 idiomatic expressions in American English. Most idioms and expressions come from a simpler time when life was quite different and it can be difficult to understand their original purpose these days. Here are ten of|
the more common expressions we use and their meanings:
“I’m as hungry as a horse.”
Meaning: “I’m very, very hungry.”
This odd saying probably originates from the huge amount of food that a horse needs each day. Though they ingest a relatively small amount of grass at a time, the continuous eating makes them appear to be starving at all times!
“I feel like a million bucks.”
Meaning: “I feel great!”
A million bucks refers to a million dollars. Obviously, if you had one million dollars, you would feel pretty good! This is especially true since this phrase originated in a time when a million dollars was worth even more than it is today.
“He’s like clockwork.”
Meaning: “He is always punctual or on time.”
Clocks are the ultimate time keepers. The word clockwork refers to the gears that work inside the clock to keep it ticking and when you say someone is like those gears, you mean he or she is always on time, not early or late.
“They were running like a bat out of hell.”
Meaning: “They were moving very quickly.”
Hell is a very unpleasant place full of fire and demons, so you can imagine that a bat would be in a big hurry to get out of there! Thus, the expression means that the subject was going very fast.
“I know them like the back of my hand.”
Meaning: “I know and understand them very well.”
Your hand is a part of your body and chances are, you’ve looked at it a few times in your life. You know exactly what the back of your hand looks like and so, when you use this expression to refer to how well you know someone, it means you are very close to them.
“He sat there like a bump on a log.”
Meaning: “He didn’t move.”
Logs are inanimate. They don’t move. If there is a growth or a bump on a log, it doesn’t move either, at least, not on its own. So if someone or something is just sitting there, without making any motion, you can refer to them as a bump on a log. We usually use this one in a negative sense.
“I feel like a fish out of water.”
Meaning: “I am uncomfortable or feel like I don’t belong.”
Fish live in water, they can breathe in it and they feel comfortable there. When taken out of their water, they are very uncomfortable and certainly don’t belong.
“I’m watching you like a hawk.”
Meaning: “I will be watching you very carefully.”
Hawks are well known for their amazing eyesight. When you tell someone you’ll watch them like a hawk, it means you won’t miss a thing they do.
“Put a sock in it.”
Meaning: “Be quiet.”
Putting a sock in someone’s mouth tends to stop them from talking, which is where this expression comes from.
“Happy as a clam.”
Meaning: “I’m very happy.”
We refer to clams as happy because they have the ideal life . . . living on the beach, no work to do. They simply open their shells to get food. So, being happy as a clam is to be really pleased with life.