Category: Origin of words

Oh, for the life of Rilely: origin of idioms

I guess it’s no co-incidence that my blog today is about living the life of Riley. As I have been feeling restless and vigorously browsing travel sites (Corona virus notwithstanding – SA has just confirmed its first case) it should come as no surprise as the universe has a way of putting universal synergy in your path.

Valentine’s chip on shoulder: how idioms originate

Bad day...
Grumpy?

As it’s Valentine’s Day, I was remembering one of the less romantic dates of my early dating life.

I think it was the second date and Charles had asked to “see my etchings”.

The unromantic prelude to this great event was the sharing of a plate of chips. Two remained on the plate, and I said to Charles, “You can have them, one for each shoulder,” smiling at my own wit.

Limelight or spotlight? Use the right phrase.

Novak Djokovic enjoys the limelight

The English language is full of tricks and words of similar meaning that are confusing to second language speakers.

One of these is limelight and spotlight. While some believe that to be in the limelight and under the spotlight are much the same, I think they are quite different.

From six yards to nine: how idioms originate

In mid-January I asked my bookkeeper for an updated statement of my account. I wanted to look at my Dec/Jan financial affairs to prepare myself for 2020.

What he sent was a massive 13-page dossier going back to January 2019.

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

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.

Take the log out of your eye and other idioms

Last night while watching Come Dine With Me, I latched on to satirist David Lamb’s shortening of an idiom. He simply used the two words of comparison and said, pot/ kettle Terence, to suggest he had a blind spot.

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.

Why are squibs damp? How idioms are formed

Squid
picture by Sam Lee Unsplash

Last week, I set out to take part in a cyclethon which had all the promise of a thunderous event complete with disco lights, the hippest of DJs and an ongoing supply of energy drinks.

When I arrived, all I saw were a lot of empty bikes, women and men in tights waiting to mount, while crackling sound speakers and subdued lighting attempted to create an ambience.

Doggerel: How words originate

A dog’s life

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?

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