I recently picked up a catalogue in a shop that I’m very attached to, which featured a squirrel (need I mention my attachment to squirrels?) and a mysterious phrase ‘Taking the biscuit‘ on its cover. I thought I should perhaps investigate the meaning of this biscuit phrase, but was too lazy. However, I came across this phrase again a few days later and there was no place for laziness any more.
According to Cambridge Dictionaries Online ‘you say that something or someone (really) takes the biscuit when they have done something that you find extremely annoying or surprising’.
To shed a bit more light on its usage here are a few examples:
– And you say she’s opening your letters now? Oh, that really takes the biscuit! (Cambridge Dictionaries Online)
– Did you think that it was only in Victorian England that debtors were forced into the workhouse? Think again. This week a leaked letter revealed that Greece’s eurozone creditors are demanding a six-day week as a condition of the latest bailout. Of all the far-out ideas for solving the Greek crisis, this one surely takes the biscuit (The Guardian).
– The most populous country, Uzbekistan, is perhaps the most repressive. Torture is widespread. In 2005 in Andijan, Uzbek soldiers fired on protesters, killing hundreds if not thousands of them. For a mix of secrecy and repression, however, Turkmenistan takes the biscuit (The Economist).
– When it comes to new designs for mobile phones, the model announced last week by a start-up based in Scottsdale, Arizona, really takes the biscuit. Shaped like a bone, it operates only as a speakerphone, picks up automatically when called, is mounted on a red strap for wearing around the neck, and is labelled with a large paw—because the PetsCell, as it is called, is a mobile phone for dogs (The Economist).