Archives for posts with tag: back

Meanwhile back at the ranch used to be a popular expression in adventure stories.

Forewarned is forearmed is a saying. If you have some relevant information in advance of a meeting for example, you are better able to deal with it.

In advance means beforehand.

 Advance booking is advised is the correct way of indicating that tickets may be in short supply.  I have seen advanced used in this context, but that is wrong!  Advanced (used as an adjective) means more difficult or more specialised.  An advance is money given out ahead of its due date.  For example, employees might ask for an advance from their wages.  The sum paid out would then have been advanced.

In arrears is the opposite.  It means behind time.  It is usual to pay rent in advance and to receive wages in arrears.

With malice aforethought is an expression about deliberate wrong-doing – some spiteful act which has been planned beforehand.

Preparatory to is a clumsy expression meaning before.

To bend over backwards is to do more than what might be considered reasonable.  The phrase is usually heard as part of a complaint about how the speaker’s efforts have not been appreciated.

Dull and backward is how teachers used to describe pupils requiring remedial classes or those who now would have a statement of their special needs.

Not backward at coming forward describes someone who speaks out and makes their presence known.  It can be used to express disapproval or a shy person might be told not to be backward at coming forward.

Back-to-front is the wrong way round.

Back-to-back is how many rows of houses were built.

The back of beyond is a remote location.

A setback is an unexpected delay.

Backroom boys are not seen working by the public in the front office.

Without a backward glance means without looking back.  Lot’s wife failed here with fatal consequences.  Genesis 19:26 (NIV) But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.  Read the whole story in Genesis 18:16:19:29

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Many hands make light work.

This is a proverb with a fairly obvious meaning: that a big job is easier if lots of people work together at it.

Shake hands on it.
People seem to shake hands less often now than they used to.  This expression is about an agreement or deal.

Knuckles are the joints in hands.  Near the knuckle means bordering on the indecent.  (Definition from the Concise Oxford Dictionary)

To chance one’s arm
means to take a risk.

Keep them at arm’s length.
This is advice not to get too involved with certain people.

Don’t wear your heart on your sleeve.
Don’t make it too obvious who you love most.

I did it out of the goodness of my heart.
An act of kindness, but was it appreciated?

Stretch your legs.
After sitting for a long time, perhaps on a journey, it is a good idea to go for a short walk.

Put your foot down.

This means exert your authority.  A jocular version is
I put my foot down with a firm hand!”

I had to think on my feet…
…and make a quick decision.

Pick your feet up
or don’t drag your feet
are instructions to tired children walking home.

Dragging your feet is also used figuratively for working slowly.

To have cold feet
is when someone has made a decision and then has a change of mind about it.

You’ll have to stand on your own two feet
by supporting yourself.

Put your best foot forward
is another instruction to a tired child.  I was always confused about which was my best foot.  Grammatically, it should be better in any case!

Put your toe in the water.
This is about trying a new experience.

My back’s broad.
I am prepared to take the blame.

That put my back up.
Are cats annoyed when they arch their backs?

Put your back into it.
Make an effort.

A shoulder to cry on
belongs to a sympathetic person at a sad time.  If they give you a hug, your face may well be buried against their shoulder.

I’ll put salt on your tail.
An expression used when someone has done something wrong.  I had no idea what this was about until I looked it up in the Concise Oxford Dictionary.  Apparently children wanting to catch a bird were advised to put salt on its tail.

Chasing one’s tail.
Dogs sometimes chase their own tails.  It doesn’t get them anywhere.  If someone feels that they are rushing around making very little progress, here is a short way of saying so.

A gut feeling.
Intuition.

Blood is thicker than water.
Bonds between family members are the strongest.

He won’t make old bones
is a prediction about someone who lives recklessly, perhaps.  These are his bones (not dice, as in the final saying in this post).

I feel it in my bones.
I feel sure. (The Concise Oxford Dictionary again)

No bones broken
is often said to a child who has fallen over.

Make no bones about it…
My understanding of this is “Don’t disagree with what I am going to say”.  However the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable explains that bones here are dice.  The meaning is not to make difficulty or scruple, thus favouring the dice.

Did you know that when Jesus was crucified, his clothes were divided up by casting lots?  Matthew Chapter 27 verse 35

This was predicted in Psalm 22 verse 18 (NIV) They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.