Category: write better English

Three sheets to the wind: How idioms originate

Last week I had mentioned to my sister that I saw my aunt at a function and she was three sheets to the wind. This meant I could not give her the important message. My sister looked at me in despair and said she did not know what that meant.

Let them eat cake: How idioms originate

pic by Eric Tompkins _ Unsplash

At a United Nations gender equality conference last week, one of the speakers who was trying to break through the gender disparity in our society used the phrase “bread and circuses” quite a lot.  I’m not sure if her usage was correct, but there it was.

Idioms in the workplace

jeff-sheldon-sVGH5ROWnl4-unsplashWith the latest unemployment figures in South Africa at 29%, here’s a quick run down of some of the work related idioms and how to use them.

 

Learn the Ropes

Meaning: Become more familiar with a job or field; be trained

Example:  John takes about three months to learn the ropes and then finds that he is bored.

Get the Sack/ Be Sacked

Flying too close to the sun: how idioms originate

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This week while sipping on a warm Coke Zero at lunch with a friend, we began to discuss the wonders of Greece. She reminded me of the fable of Icarus.

Icarus had wings fashioned out of feathers and wax to assist his escape from the prison where he and his father were captive.

Robo dog delivers in driverless car: AI is in our world


While updating myself with news of the day I happened across the headline
“This robot delivery dog will hitch a ride in a driverless car to deliver your packages.” https://www.verdict.co.uk/robot-delivery-dog-continental/

Two things struck me:

  1. The reality of AI and the number of jobs that are lost to mechanisation and 2. my mind travelled back to the article I read this morning about the 10 000 jobs lost in newsrooms over the past 10 years

    For us as writers it only means one thing – we have to be more and more creative and put our minds to writing content – that not just sells but sizzles and stirs mouth-watering responses.
    Hire me. I’m your gal …

    (sorry it’s about dogs again)

Can writers be replaced by Artificial Intelligence?

Doggerel: How words originate

With no less than eight beautiful loving dogs at home, and witnessing the birth of three perfect puppies, I am rather distressed to learn that the origin of the word ‘doggerel’ originates from a time when people thought dogs were less than honorary human beings.

Can you just image living in such a heartless age?

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.

Making mountains out of molehills: idioms

If you’re from a family who tends to exaggerate, you will be familiar with the term making a mountain out of a molehill.

This may come about in a number of ways. If you forget to bring a cake to a tea party, your host might show a great deal of distress over your forgetfulness. The guests might think her performance is unnecessary as  most of them are on a raw-foods diet.

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?