Idioms title

The Idiom Attic - a collection of hundreds of English idioms, each one explained.

"language" idioms...

See also, the Phrase Thesaurus list of phrases that contain the word language

and, a list of phrases that relate in some way the word language

" A picture paints a thousand words "
Meaning:
Pictures are far more descriptive than words.
Example:
I tried to describe that fantastic sunset and then she just showed them a photo. You know it’s true - a picture paints a thousand words.
Where did it originate?:
Where is it used?:
A very widely and commonly used proverb/adage.
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   number   adage   america  
" Actions speak louder than words "
Meaning:
Actions show one’s character more than what you say.
Example:
She spoke up for the immigrants but he gave them a bed in his house - actions speak louder than words.
Where did it originate?:
Britain - 17th century.
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   effort   adage  
" Al desko "
Meaning:
Eating one’s lunch while still working. (A Pun on ’Al fresco’.).
Example:
I’m too busy to come to the cafe this lunchtime - I’ll be lunching al desko.
Where did it originate?:
USA and Britain, in the 1980s
Where is it used?:
Widely used, but mainly in the 30/40s generations who work in offices.
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   work  
" Al fresco "
Meaning:
In the open air.
Example:
The weather’s lovely, let’s have our lunch al fresco on the terrace.
Where did it originate?:
Britain adaptation of an Italian expression
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   nature  
" All Greek to me "
Meaning:
Incomprehensible, as Greek is to someone who cannot speak it.
Example:
He says that quantum physics isn't so difficult but it's all Greek to me.
Where did it originate?:
Shakespearian, from Julius Caesar, 1601.
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken:
" Alphabet soup "
Meaning:
A jumble of words or letters, often referring to organisations known by their initials, like CIA or BBC.
Example:
All those institutions of the European parliament are confusing - a real alphabet soup.
Where did it originate?:
USA. An early 20th century adaptation of the name of the soup made from pasta letters.
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   america  
" Bite your tongue "
Meaning:
Avoid speaking.
Example:
I knew his wife wasn't faithful but I didn't like to say - I thought it best to bite my tongue.
Where did it originate?:
Britain. Early (pre 1000AD) English, in the form of hold or keep one's tongue.
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   the_human_body   patience  
" Cat got your tongue? "
Meaning:
A question addressed to someone who is inexplicably silent. The implication is that the person's tongue is missing.
Example:
All you have to do is tell us who attacked you and we will arrest them. Why so quiet? Has the cat got your tongue?
Where did it originate?:
America, 19th century.
Where is it used?:
Worldwide, but little used amongst the young.
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   animals  
" Chaise Lounge "
Meaning:
The American spelling for the piece of furniture known elsewhere as a chaise longue.
Example:
You must be tired. Why don't you lie down on the chaise lounge?
Where did it originate?:
USA, late 19th century. The misspelling of 'chaise longue' causes some amusement in France.
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   household_items   america  
" Cock and bull story "
Meaning:
An unbelievable tale.
Example:
She said that she went to school with George Clooney but she's only twenty two - I think it's a cock and bull story.
Where did it originate?:
Britain, 17th century, although the precise source is unknown.
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   animals   trickery  
" Excuse my French "
Meaning:
Please forgive me for swearing.
Example:
Bugger - excuse my French.
Where did it originate?:
Britain, mid 20th century.
Where is it used?:
Britain, mostly by the older generation.
More idioms about:   euphemism  
" Hear it on the grapevine "
Meaning:
Hear rumors about something from an anonymous informal contact.
Example:
The girls in the dorm were talking and I heard it on the grapevine that Judy is pregnant.
Where did it originate?:
USA
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   food   fruit   secrets  
" Hit the nail on the head "
Meaning:
Make the precise correct point.
Example:
Churchill hit the nail on the head when he called Hitler a dictator.
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   america  
" In a nutshell "
Meaning:
In a few words. Concisely stated.
Example:
Our profitability has dwindled to a point where we cannot continue to meet our creditors demands. In a nutshell; were broke.
Where did it originate?:
The UK in the 19th century.
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   food  
" Mind your language "
Meaning:
An admonition not to swear.
Example:
Hey kids, I'm on speakerphone to Granny so mind your language.
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken:
" Mums the word "
Meaning:
Keep quiet. Say nothing.
Example:
I'm telling you this in confidence - remember, mums the word.
Where did it originate?:
Britain, 18th century.
Where is it used?:
Mostly Britain.
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   family  
" Off the record "
Meaning:
Something said in confidence that the one speaking doesn't want repeated.
Example:
The minister won't talk to reporters since his last off the record briefing got into the papers.
Where did it originate?:
USA, 1930s.
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   business   secrets   america  
" Old chestnut "
Meaning:
A story that has been told repeatedly and which has lost any originality.
Example:
Grandma brings out that story about her meeting the Queen every Christmas. It really is a hoary old chestnut.
Where did it originate?:
Britain - 19th century.
Where is it used?:
Worldwide, but most common in the UK.
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   food  
" On the record "
Meaning:
Something said in confidence that the one speaking is happy to have repeated.
Example:
As finance minister I'm on the record as supporting increased spending on welfare, and you can quote me on that.
Where did it originate?:
USA, 20th century.
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   business   america  
" Pipe down "
Meaning:
An instruction to shut-up or be quiet.
Example:
Okay kids, the lesson has started. Pipe down and I'll begin.
Where did it originate?:
USA, 19th century. Probably deriving from an earlier British Navy source.
Where is it used?:
Worldwide, if a little dated.
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   america  
" Potty mouth "
Meaning:
A foul mouthed person.
Example:
I couldn't believe that string of swearwords that Jill gave the teacher - she's a real potty mouth.
Where did it originate?:
USA, mid 20th century.
Where is it used?:
Worldwide, but not particularly common.
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   the_human_body   america  
" Rabbit and pork "
Meaning:
Cockney rhyming slang for talk.
Example:
He just goes on and on about his hobbies - rabbit, rabbit, rabbit!
Where did it originate?:
Where is it used?:
Mostly Britain.
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   food   animals   cockney_rhyming_slang  
" Silver tongued "
Meaning:
Eloquent or persuasive manner of speech.
Example:
Reagan didn't always have much in the way of policies but he certainly could hold a crowd with his silver tongued speeches.
Where did it originate?:
Britain, 16th century.
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   the_human_body   colour  
" Talk of the devil! "
Meaning:
Said when someone that you have just been talking about arrives.
Example:
Did you know that Jim is gay? Oh, talk of the devil - here he is.
Where did it originate?:
Britain, 17th century.
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   religion  
" To cut a long story short "
Meaning:
Said when a storyteller doesn't want to bore his audience with a long involved account.
Example:
Macbeth has dozens of characters and is a very complex play. To cut a long story short, Macbeth dies.
Where did it originate?:
Britain, 18th century.
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken:
" Word for word "
Meaning:
An exact, precisely corresponding to, copy of another's words.
Example:
I was sure of what I had seen of the robbery. I made sure that the police took a word for word copy of my report of it.
Where did it originate?:
Britain, 13th century.
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken:

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