Tag Archives: cinema

To come off

Last Saturday I watched Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, which wasn’t really on my top-10 list of films to watch, but it seemed like a good choice for a relaxing Saturday night. I thought it was a bit syrupy, but the actors were good, so on balance I think it’s watchable. More importantly, I learnt a few new words and phrases (my husband constantly makes fun of how I rush to write something down as soon as I hear it, but I just can’t help it!).

One of them was ‘to come off‘ – as you might have guessed even if you haven’t watched the film,it was about introducing salmon to a man-made river in Yemen and initially most people were skeptical about the success of this venture (and rightly so!), but eventually the main character, an expert on salmon if ever there was one, said that ‘it might just come off‘, meaning, in this context, ‘it might succeed’ or ‘we might just pull it off’.

More examples:

– The warm reception that he received refuted those who wondered whether the summit would come off, or if it could accomplish anything (Oxford Dictionary).

– Actively seeking risk makes sense for venture capitalists. Many of their gambles do not come off, but some of those that make it deliver huge rewards (The Economist).

Another meaning of ‘to come off‘ – I’ve found about 5 in total – is ‘to achieve a particular result in an activity, especially a competition or fight’ (Macmillan Dictionary):

– When banks go wrong, the biggest come off worst (The Economist).

– Even above the Brits, many touring Americans come off as culturally insensitive and arrogant among other things (The Economist).

P.S. In the US ‘to come off‘ is also used as a synonym of ‘to come across as‘, which is more popular in the UK.

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To look the other way

to look the other way phrase meaning

Photo credit: Reuters / Mario Anzuoni

Yesterday I went to see Woody Allen’s new film Blue Jasmine – it was my reward for a long working week, and I must say I wasn’t disappointed. I’ll try not to spoil too much of the plot, but the story is about the wife of an indecently rich guy who turned out to be a crook and got his fortune by stealing from others. She was often accused by her friends of ‘looking the other way‘ when he came up with dubious financial schemes and other illegal stuff.

While the meaning is pretty clear I don’t think I’ve come across this phrase before. However, there’s a good synonym – ‘to turn a blind eye to something‘.

Here are a few more examples:

– Apart from a few dogged journalists at the profile news magazine who exposed Waldheim and much else besides, Austria chose to look the other way. That’s a habit that is not an Austrian monopoly (The Guardian).

– If the international community looks the other way now, the violence will flare up again and the government of Sudan will go back to slaughter  (The Guardian).

– European nations look the other way while Greek officials abuse migrants, particularly children, to keep their borders secure (The Guardian).

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