the foreign flash

English idioms

I know there are people in this fandom who aren’t native English speakers. I also know that English can be a very difficult language to learn, especially with things like idioms that might not make sense if they’re directly translated. So I thought I’d compile some English idioms that you might see in the AA games or fanfics, along with their definitions or explanations. I did something similar once before, split across several blog posts, but I thought I’d compile them here. The examples below will have specific gender and/or personal pronouns, but those are just for example and clarity purposes. They can obviously be changed to suit the context.

-I talked her into it - I convinced her to do it

-I talked her out of it - I convinced her not to do it

-she talked him down - she convinced him to descend (such as from a dangerous height); or she explained how to descend (such as giving instructions over a radio to an inexperienced pilot); or she convinced him to lower his asking price for something he’s selling

-to talk (or hype) someone (or something) up - to explain the good points of someone (or something) in such a way as to create excitement, anticipation, or appreciation

-another (or “a whole other”) kettle of fish - a completely different story or explanation

-don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched - don’t make plans based on a theoretical result

-the last straw (or “the straw that broke the camel’s back”) - the last inconvenience, annoyance, indignity, etc. that can be tolerated

-more _____ than you can shake a stick at - an overwhelming or unusually large number or amount of _____

-at the drop of a hat - at the slightest provocation (”The baby will cry at the drop of a hat.”)

-as the crow flies - the direct distance between two places, regardless of roads or obstacles

-she made a beeline - she took the shortest and quickest route to a destination (usually a straight line)

-milk run - an easy or simple errand

-_____ run - an errand or trip with the purpose of retrieving or obtaining _____ and bringing it back (“Everyone at the party was hungry, so Apollo was chosen to go on a pizza run.”)

-he talked down to her - he talked to her in a condescending, insulting, or patronizing way (not to be confused with “he talked her down”)

-she has him wrapped around her little finger - he will do almost anything she says, and/or will do almost anything for her, usually due to a crush or something.

-[name], eat your heart out - die of envy (said in a joking context)

-to play devil’s advocate - to introduce an unpopular opinion, theory, or possibility, despite its unpopularity, usually because it needs to be considered, even if the person introducing it disagrees with it

-a shot (or “a stab”) in the dark - a guess

-water under the bridge - something that doesn’t matter anymore or that has been forgiven

-to tie the knot - to get married

-to jump the gun (or “to jump to a conclusion”) - to make an assumption or conclusion based on insufficient information

-born with a silver spoon in his mouth - born to rich parents; born into and grew up in a life of luxury

-he put his foot in his mouth - he (probably impulsively) said something that turned out to be embarrassing and/or made matters worse

-you bit off more than you can chew - you started or accepted too many tasks, assignments, or responsibilities at the same time

-to beat around the bush - to avoid a main topic, or to be intentionally vague about a topic that one is expected to discuss

-to let the cat out of the bag - to reveal a secret

-to spill the beans - to reveal a secret

-to beat a dead horse - to continue discussing a topic after it becomes pointless

-once in a blue moon - very rarely

-take it with a grain of salt - don’t consider it too seriously

-we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it - we’ll deal with that problem only if/when it becomes necessary

-not playing with a full deck - lacking intelligence, or not thinking clearly

-a few ____ short of a ____ (for example, “a few bricks short of a load”) - lacking intelligence, or not thinking clearly

-he put his foot down - he insisted, or he asserted his authority against opposition

-to put the cart before the horse - to deal with problems in the wrong order —-This expression probably comes from the days when people still used horse-drawn carts. If a cart is “before” (which in this case means “in front of”) a horse, the horse can’t pull it.

-can’t see the forest for the trees - too obsessed or concerned with details to recognize the overall situation

-get-up-and-go - energy, drive, motivation
(There’s an old joke that involves some variation of the following:
happy person: “Where’s your get-up-and-go?”
sad person: “It got up and went.”)

-way out in left field (or “it came out of left field”) - very unusual or unexpected

-he drives her up the wall - he excessively annoys her

-like talking to a brick wall - talking is completely pointless because the listener isn’t listening, isn’t interested, or doesn’t understand

-get the lead out - hurry up
(The word “lead” has two pronunciations and many definitions. Here it’s pronounced “led” and it means “a very heavy type of metal that blocks radiation”. It’s also the only thing Superman can’t see through.)

-to show him the ropes - to explain necessary basic things such as rules, boundaries, policies, procedures, etc. to a newcomer

-keep it under your hat - keep it a secret

-hang (or “hold”) onto your hat - brace yourself; get ready for the big startling/tense/surprising/scary thing that’s about to happen

-mind your p’s and q’s - behave yourself

-make sure to cross your t’s and dot your i’s - carefully check your work to make sure everything is done and/or done correctly
(These last two are also examples of the only situation in which plurals ever have apostrophes, because if these didn’t, they’d look like a misspelled word or part of a word instead of indicating the plural of a letter. Like if “i’s” didn’t have an apostrophe, it’d be confused with the word “is”.)

-easy as pie - very easy

-piece of cake - very easy

-it’s all Greek to me - I don’t understand any of it

-______ is my middle name - ______ is my specialty

-to hit the nail on the head - to be absolutely correct

-the pot calling the kettle black - pointing out something about someone else that is just as true of oneself

-Keep your shirt on! - Be patient!

-like water off a duck’s back - easily; without any apparent effect

-What does that have to do with the price of tea in China? - How is that relevant to this conversation/situation?

-What am I, chopped liver? - semi-serious expression of annoyance at being overlooked

-you’re toast - you’re in serious trouble, ruined, finished, defeated, or destroyed