Specifically American English idioms Alexander Boldyrev 13225
What is idiom? An idiom is a combination of words that have a figurative meaning owing to its common usage.
Why learn idioms? Learning idiomatic expressions is a very important part of the language-learning process. Much of everyday speech is based on colloquial and slang vocabulary - much of this vocabulary is based on idioms. American English is full of idioms. You won’t learn these expressions in a standard textbook. But you will hear them all the time in everyday conversations. You’ll also meet them in books, newspapers, magazines, TV shows, and on the Internet. Idioms add color to the language. Master idioms and your speech will be less awkward, less foreign. You’ll also understand more of what you read and hear.
Specifically American English idioms As the nation grew, so did its own casual variety of the English language, which was influenced by cowboys, sports, the building of the railroad, the card game of poker, African-American culture, immigrants, natives, etc.
“An arm and a leg” Meaning: A large, possibly exorbitant, amount of money. From The Long Beach Independent, December 1949: Food Editor Beulah Karney has more than 10 ideas for the homemaker who wants to say "Merry Christmas" and not have it cost her an arm and a leg. From an 1849 edition of Sharpe's London Journal: He felt as if he could gladly give his right arm to be cut off if it would make him, at once, old enough to go and earn money instead of Lizzy.
“close, but no cigar” Meaning: Fall just short of a successful outcome and get nothing for your efforts. Sayre and Twist's publishing of the script of the 1935 film version of Annie Oakley: "Close, Colonel, but no cigar!"
“heads up” Meaning: this little phrase has several meanings - an advance warning - being wide awake and alert - being the head of - a type is display screen. Example: 'The boss was coming. Jim gave us a heads up to get on with some work‘ Washington Post - from November 1914: "Heads up". A baseball and football term signifying alertness, action.
“piece of cake” Meaning: A straightforward task that can easily be accomplished. The American poet and humorist Ogden Nash's Primrose Path, 1936: "Her picture's in the papers now, And life's a piece of cake."
“a shot in the arm” Meaning: A stimulus. Piece from the San Francisco Chronicle Supplement, October 1904: "I varied hardly a minute each day in the time of taking my injection. My first shot was when I awoke in the morning.“ The Maine newspaper The Lewiston Evening Journal, January 1916: The vets can give politics a shot in the arm and the political leaders realize it.
“break the ice” Meaning: to initiate social interaction/conversation. Example: At the start of the meeting, Mike tried to break the ice by telling a joke.
“make your day” Meaning: used to say that smthmade your day special (and great). Example: Finding a fifty-dollar bill on the ground made my day.
“draw a blank” Meaning: to be unable to remember anything Example: When asked for her postal code, Amy drew a blank.
“have a shot at” Meaning: has a chance Example: Our team has a shot at winning the championship.
“safe and sound” Meaning:safe Example: I arrived home from my trip safe and sound.
“get cold feet” Meaning: to become nervous/frightened right before smthyou had planned to do. Example: It’s normal to get cold feet before your wedding day.
“small talk” Meaning: discussion about light topics such as the weather Example: After some small talk, the interview began.
“go up in smoke” Meaning: to be wasted; to become impossible; when the chances of sth happening burn away Example: After breaking his leg, Darryl’s dream to play professional hockey went up in smoke.
“miss the point” Meaning: to fail to grasp the most important part of smth Example: “You missed the point. The book was about the problems of capitalism, not how to make money.”
“Give smba hand” Meaning: helped you Example: My dad gave me a hand with my homework.
“speak your mind” Meaning: say what you honestly feel Example: Timmy was afraid to speak his mind in front of his schoolmates.