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On Idioms

Confession: I love idioms. Ok, that wasn’t really a confession. And now I sound dramatic.

It’s really a silly thing to love. But I do. I love how strange they are. How they are so different depending on culture. How their origins are often obscure and don’t really match our usage of them today.

I vividly remember when I first learned about idioms. Obviously I had been using them my whole life, but I didn’t really understand until I started taking French classes. We actually had whole lessons on “expressions” and learned about all the silly things the French say. And then it hit me that we do it too! We say these odd phrases, and fully expect the person we are speaking with to understand it. I feel like there has got to be some fascinating psychological or sociological point here, but I don’t know what it is. Other than I feel like, culturally these idioms unite us and also divide us. And they have so much unknown history and meaning, and we continue to use them despite the changes in meaning. Language is always evolving, and I totally geek out over that!

So here are a few of my favorite idioms in English and French, along with a link to their origin, in case you want to geek out with me:

English:
salt of the earth
it’s raining cats and dogs
something is off color
apple of my eye

French:

mon petit chou: my little cabbage/ a term of endearment similar to us calling a child “pumpkin”
Boire comme un trou: to drink like a hole/ to over drink, usually as a term of derision
Arriver comme un cheveu sur la soupe: arrive like a hair in a soup/ arrive at the worst possible time
Tomber dans les pommes: to fall in the apples/ to pass out or faint
Avoir un poil dans la main: to have hair on your hands/ to be lazy

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Do you have a favorite idiom?  One you use often but maybe don’t know the origin of? 

Do you speak another language?  What are some funny idioms you use in that language? 

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