Archives for posts with tag: Winnie-the-Pooh

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,
Acts and Romans carry on.

This rhyme was one that my friends and I used to chant while playing a ball game.  We used two rubber balls each and threw them against a wall in time to the chant.  It would be possible to hand over to the next person at carry on The names are those of the first six books of the New Testament.  The first four are gospels, which tell about the life of Jesus.  Acts is short for the Acts of the Apostles and tells exciting stories about Jesus’ early followers.  The letter to the Romans is St Paul’s longest and most detailed discussion of theology.  Have you read them all?

On the part of is an expression sometimes confused with on behalf ofIf something is done on behalf of another person or person(s) it is because they cannot do it or it is not appropriate for them to do it for themselves.  If a secretary signs a letter on behalf of the boss, the signature is marked p.p. from the Latin per pro or in full per procurationem.  Something done on the part of someone, is done by them.

For my part…
I try to use language accurately.  (But the goalposts are moving!)

Walking on eggshells is a metaphor about treading carefully (with one’s words) to avoid upsetting or annoying someone.  Mind what you say! might be good advice to someone entering a situation where someone is vulnerable or quick-tempered.  Mind means be careful or more literally think about in this context.

On tenterhooks means stressed due to uncertainty.  It comes from the textile industry where a tenter was used to stretch damp cloth to shape.

Like a cat on hot bricks also means agitated.

On top form means at the peak of one’s performanceForm here means shape or fitness.

On the wagon means abstaining from alcoholic drink.

To jump on the band wagon means to agree with a new idea.  A band might be travelling musicians, visiting a village.

On the wrong tack means mistaken.  Tack here is the sailing term, where the vessel sails at an angle to the wind in order to travel in the required direction when the wind direction makes this necessary.

On the wrong track has a similar meaning.  A track is a path or clues left by a person or animal.  Do you know the story of Pooh and Piglet following the Wizzles or Woozles?  (It is in the book Winnie the Pooh.)

On a short leash means under control.  A leash is often called a lead in UK English.  Dogs used to be expected to walk at heel, in which case they would be led.

Thin on top refers to the hair on a balding man’s head.

On the cusp of…
…is on the top edge of.  The cusp is the apex.

On his soapbox is where he can talk for a long time to anyone who cares to listen to his opinions.  In Hyde Park, London people go and talk standing on soapboxes so they can be seen above the crowd.  Someone described as being on a soapbox, might not be anywhere near one.

Something to fall back on.
This is a second string to one’s bow, either a skill which is not one’s main work or something in reserve.

It dawned on him:  he understood as if the light had been switched on so that he could see.

Catching on to something is a colloquialism for understanding it.

It’ll never catch on means it will never become popular.

On the back boiler is a metaphor from a cooker or hob.  A pot which does not need attention for the time being is put to the back, while those requiring stirring are at the front.  It can be used about projects of any kind.

On autopilot means without thinking.  An aeroplane can be flown without the pilot having to think, when a device known as an autopilot is used.

On pain of death is a threat.

They’ve brought it on themselves implies they do not deserve any sympathy for their difficulties.

Keeping tabs on someone means knowing where they are and what they are doing.  Tabs on a dictionary allow you to find a particular letter instantly.

Get a handle on something means understand it or grasp it.

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Money talks…

…but not by chinking in pockets!  I didn’t understand this the first time I heard it.  It was explained to me that people who have money are in a stronger position to influence others.  I still don’t quite get it!

They have more money than sense
is a criticism of those who seem to spend unwisely.  Not a modern phenomenon!   A proverb is
a fool and his money are soon parted.

They have pots of money.
Some people keep their small change in jars, but the rich are unlikely to have a shelf with rows of jars like Winnie-the-Pooh’s honey!

In the kitty.
A kitty is a joint fund.  For example, a few friends out for a meal might put money in a kitty to pay for their drinks.

Money for jam.
Jam can be a good fund-raiser, but it takes a bit of effort to make it.  Jazz musicians may jam too…improvising.  The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase, Saying and Quotation has this under “Success” with various explanations.

It’s his bread and butter.
This is what someone does for a living and (not surprisingly) is very good at.

Push the boat out.
Spend more than you normally would, perhaps for a special occasion.  The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines this as “celebrate”.

Spend a penny.
Before decimalisation in Britain, public toilets (or conveniences) had coin-operated doors, which required 1d. (one old penny) to unlock them.  Hence the euphemism of spending a penny arose for going to the toilet.

Pay someone peanuts.
A low wage.  This expression has been expanded to something along the lines ofIf you pay peanuts, you can expect to get monkeys!”

If I had a pound for every time…

someone had asked me…   …I’d be a rich man/woman.

All contributions gratefully received.
Perhaps this originated as a notice in a church.

Strike a bargain.
Come to an agreement over a price.

Into the bargain.
Not usually to do with money.  This is another way of saying “as well”, but often when the additional thing is unhelpful.

Nouveau riche.
A French phrase which has entered the English language.  People who are not used to having money often flaunt it unlike those who have
old money
which may have been in their family for generations.

Never look a gift horse in the mouth.
Anyone going to buy a horse would inspect it carefully and would possibly be able to tell its age from its teeth.  However it would seem very ungrateful to treat a gift in this way.

Give someone a run for their money.
This can mean give them some competition.

A good run for one’s money
is a racing expression.  Presumably, someone backed a winner.  It is used in other contexts too.

Short-changed.
Literally not given enough change; figuratively, swindled.

She cut him off without a shilling.
A shilling was never a large sum of money.  The coin which used to be called a shilling has been replaced by 5p.  It must have been a heart-breaking situation to lose contact with someone in these circumstances!

No expense spared.
This can be used literally or ironically.  However sarcasm can be ambiguous.

Living beyond one’s means.
This is what Mr Micawber warned against.  If you do it for too long, you will not be able to
make ends meet
and could end up
in queer street
(in debt).

Spending money like there’s no tomorrow.

Proverbs Chapter 21 verse 20  (NIV In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.