Category Archives: Words and expressions

Everything but the kitchen sink

 everything but the kitchen sink meaning

I apologize for my prolonged absence and for not posting anything for months. I cannot even say that I was extremely busy – at least not all of the time – but there was a fair amount of things going on and maybe I just needed a bit of a break from the blog as well. From now on I hope to be able to update this blog more often!

I took this picture near where I live. It’s an advertisement for Gumtree – a website where you can sell or buy pretty much anything, from cars to furniture (and some people do sell sinks there!) – and it reminded me of a funny expression ‘everything but the kitchen sink‘, which means, well, everything you can imagine.

Here are some examples:

– The kitchen needs to look at its salads which contain everything but the kitchen sink (Oxford Dictionary).

– Peter went to London for the weekend with a huge bag of things – clothes, computers, his special shampoo… He really took everything but the kitchen sink (BBC Learning English).

– So he took the “everything but the kitchen sink” approach to reform – ranging from a ban on MPs getting involved in lobbying through to fixed-term parliaments. He even talked about moving towards a written constitution (BBC).

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To cobble together

to cobble together meaning

Photo credit: chocolateandzucchini.com

This exciting new phrased cropped up at today my Russian lesson (which goes to show that I don’t speak Russian all the time, which, perhaps, I should, but nevermind) in the context of teachers who sometimes ‘cobble together‘ textbooks for their course using different bits and pieces. That’s what I do because so far I haven’t found the book for teaching Russian, for better or for worse.

As you’ll see from the examples below, it’s an incredibly useful verb and there’re lots of things that lend themselves to cobbling together:

– He cobbled together a meal from leftovers in the fridge (MacMillan Dictionary).

– Even if an agreement is cobbled together it will not please everyone (Oxford Dictionary).

– Consumers who want to cobble together different subscriptions from HBO, Netflix and others may find it is not that much cheaper after paying for broadband (The Economist).

– When the overspend was officially announced, almost a year later, the Scottish government acted shocked and took a weekend to cobble together a rescue package despite knowing the full increase in costs (BBC).

However, when I heard this phrase, it made me think of a cobbler recipe I recently saw on Clotilde Dusoulier’s blog called Chocolate and Zucchini. And although some suggest that ‘cobblers get their names from the biscuits on top, which look like cobblestone streets’, the assumption that ‘perhaps it’s called a cobbler because you take whatever fruits you have on hand and cobble them together’ also makes perfect sense to me.

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To go to pot

go to pot meaning

Photo credit: travelground.com

I’m sure that today’s phrase will be relevant for many people! How many times have you had a day which had gone sooooo terribly wrong from the moment you got out of bed?

I learnt this phrase from a newsletter of a coffee chain which I normally don’t bother reading, but here you go – sometimes they can be useful! They were advertising their new campaign:

#MyMorningHasBroken
When your mornings go to pot, we’ve been fixing the with yummy offers and freebies – here’s one of our favourites.

Indeed, it’s not only mornings that can “go to pot“, but many other things too:

– My late night writing session went to pot, as it were (Oxford Dictionary)

– The house has been going to pot for years (Macmillan Dictionary).

– All that said, the single market is an unambiguously good idea, and the idea that one could let half of Europe go to pot is ludicrous (The Economist).

– These people are following this charlatan as if they would follow a Messiah. They do it because of pie in the sky. With him Italy will go to pot (The Economist).

If you’re wondering how this phrase came about, here’s a little explanation of its etymology. “That meaning alludes to the fact that the journey of an animal or ingredient to the pot was a one-way trip, with a very short future ahead”.

 

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Linguistic Spy nominated by MacMillan Love English Awards 2014

Macmillan Love English Awards 2014 blog

Dear readers,

First of all, Happy New Year to everyone who has been reading / following / sharing this blog. It means the world to me!

Second… I never thought I’d make it, but surprisingly my blog was chosen as one of 35 nominees by MacMillan Love English Awards 2014 and the voting is now open! I am particularly flattered by being together with The Economist’s wonderful Prospero blog – perhaps I’ll vote for them!

You can vote for the Linguistic Spy on this page (just scroll down until you see the list).

Many thanks in advance and have a great year!

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P.S. I am now back from my snowy motherland and I am looking forward to updating this blog as often as I can with lots of quirky words and phrases!

 

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I am swamped!

swamped meaning usage

Photo credit: jonnycooper.net

Actually, it’s not me that is swamped right now – if anything, I’ve had a rather leisurely week, reading an exciting novel, baking biscuits and brownies for my family in Russia and doing some last-minute Christmas shopping. This was what one of my students said, apologizing for not being able to make it to our Russian class.

I’ve come across this expression before, but I must admit I hardly ever use it myself. However, it’s a nice alternative to ‘snowed under‘ (the latter, however, is probably more appropriate for this time of year).

Being ‘swamped‘ implies being overwhelmed with a large amount of something, but not only work, as you will see from examples below:

– Like hospitals, many of the province’s mental health facilities are swamped with requests for help, and the people who need their services can’t wait (Oxford Dictionary).

– Michael Fallon, the defence secretary, has claimed British towns are being “swamped” by immigrants and their residents are “under siege”, in an escalation of the emotive language being used by Tory ministers calling for a renegotiation of the UK’s relationship with Europe (The Guardian) – yay, always blame the immigrants!

– Claims by Scottish government ministers that Scotland‘s universities will be “swamped” by English students seeking free tuition after independence have been challenged by an expert study (The Guardian).

– People have long groused that they were swamped by information (The Economist).

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A do (wait… isn’t ‘do’ a verb?)

christmas do

Photo credit: theguardian.com

Apologies for the prolonged silence on this blog – I cannot even say that I was extremely busy with work, but somehow I just didn’t get round to writing anything.

On Saturday I went to a Christmas party organised by the regional group of the Institute of Translators and Interpreters. In fact, I was also invited to a Christmas party organised by a language school where I teach, but of course they had to be on the same day and at the same time and I had to choose. Despite being completely knackered on that day I had a good time – I had a chance to catch up with colleagues and meet some new people, which is always good.

The word I chose for this post – ‘a do‘ – is a synonym of ‘a party’, and it can refer to almost any occasion:

– Are you going to Ann’s leaving do?

– We had our work [Christmas] do in this restaurant.

– Such social dos are more or less confined to the well to do and the upwardly mobile class of young professionals (Oxford Dictionary).

– We’re having a bit of a do to celebrate Pam’s birthday (MacMillan Dictionary).

In case I don’t get round to writing anything else this year, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all the readers!

P.S. Today is the last day to nominate my blog for the Macmillan Love English Award!

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Could you watch over my stuff?

watch over stuff

Photo credit: gourmetravelista.com

A couple of weeks ago I was having a tea in a café between my lessons, and a girl sitting opposite suddenly said ‘Excuse me, could you watch over my stuff?’ I nodded to say I could. Until that day I wanted to ask other people the same thing on several occasions, but wasn’t sure whether it’s ‘done’ in this country. Apparently, it is!

Here’s a little post on the subject of watching other people’s stuff from a fellow WordPress blogger.

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Russian up… and some other phrasal verbs you never knew existed

russian out up

Photo credit: wikipedia.org

The other day I had another class with my Russian beginner group and one of my students had just returned from a trip to Russia. We all asked how it went and he was really enthusiastic about it, though he admitted he was ‘a bit russioned out‘ by the end of it (= a bit tired from hearing Russian all the time). Wow! Once again I was surprised by the creativity of English!

However, this reminded me of how I went to visit my friend and her baby daughter, and when her English husband was in another room we obviously switched from English to Russian, so he shouted ‘Stop russioning her [the baby] up!’

Ah, the ever-so-flexible English language, even when it comes to Russian!

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