Category: How words are forme

Magnate or magnet: Use the right word

Colour magnets
Fridge magnets – the scientific kind

This week South Africans bade farewell to our stalwart entrepreneur Richard Maponya. Mayponya, who died at the age of 99, brought to the country, the first shopping mall in a township. Until that day, the two were a contradiction in terms.

The newsreader said that we had lost a business magnate

Best thing since sliced bread: how idioms are formed

Last week, I decided I was tired of egg and toast for breakfast, so I ate muesli for five days. This week I ran out of bread and it would be a while until I could get to the shops. By the end of the week I was really missing my bread.

Black Friday and bargain idioms

Madness

When Game of Thrones captured the imagination of millions of fans to an obsessive degree, I used to say, “You get two kinds of people – those who watch Game of Thrones and those who do not.” I was in the ‘do not’ camp.

How to tackle intelligence: word meanings

pic by David Hellman: Unsplash

At university our syndicate was referred to as ‘The Brains Trust’ and in other groups I was touted as ‘Brainiac’. Thus, I  thought I had intelligence – quite a bit of it if you don’t mind my arrogance for a moment.

I thought it meant the ability to learn, acquire information, store knowledge and so on.

Keep the ball rolling with these idioms

pic by Joel Muniz

This week I received a rather disturbing SMS from my bank. In fact, this was the second time the bank was sending this alarming message. The first time, I checked my various banking accounts and could find nothing irregular. I assumed the bank was sending this message to the wrong customer.

Talking the hind legs off a donkey: How idioms originate

Last night while watching an excellent wildlife programme, I saw an antelope give birth, apparently a two-hour stint, to get the eager youngster out.

While I was engrossed in the final minutes, a friend called and took away my attention. She was complaining about her friend who talks the hind legs off a donkey. While doing that, she was guilty of the same offence – and I wanted to get back to ‘my’ antelope.

Last roll of the dice: how idioms are used

It’s all fair in love and war and friendship too.

I felt I was losing ground with a friend and that we would soon be going our own separate ways, so I asked her to do something for me which would require her to commit to making an effort in a very specific way.

Money in my salad: slang in language

Eat your greens, earn your bucks
Photo by Hector Bermudez  – Unsplash

This week while working on a copy assignment for a bank, I looked up other words that mean money.  I was surprised by what Google returned. In addition to a few formal words, five or so, there were a large number of slang words – probably more than 80.

Of Smoke and Mirrors and other idioms

A good friend told me this week – her ship had come in.

This means a change in luck, a sudden shower of good fortune or a great success.

When I heard this news, I was delighted for my friend, but also sceptical. So, I kept my distance and held off on the back-slapping and celebratory dancing.

Chinese Wall is moral dilemma: How idioms originate

Chinese Wall in Poker
Poker is the perfect example of not showing your hand (photo by Raymond Tan)

As I contemplate my next travel destination, my enthusiasm starts with a trip to Russia, then Egypt and Morocco and finally India, again.

Then it occurs to me, having just finished reading Mao’s Last Dancer by Li Cunxin, why not China?

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