Tag Archives: decisions

To tide you over

tide you over phrase meaning

Photo credit: tidetimes.co.uk

(Gosh, I really struggled to find an appropriate image for this one!)

When I need some baby items that I want to buy second-hand (or, more often, when I have an episode of good old procrastination), I head over to the local Facebook page where mums sell their unwanted baby stuff. Recently there was a table and two benches for sale, which the poster bought ‘just to tide us over‘. I’ve come across this handy expression before and thought it’d be a perfect opportunity to update my blog, which has been somewhat neglected lately.

I also heard this expression recently in one of those annoying ads that pop up on YouTube every time I want to watch a yoga video. It was some yogurt drink that is supposed to ‘tide you over‘ until dinner.

Here are some more examples:

  • The problem with exercise is the whole short-term loss v long-term gain issue. GymPact does a good job of getting around that by introducing a short-term gain (cash!) to tide you over till the long-term gain (buns o’ steel) kicks in (The Guardian)
  • You should be able to claim against the airline for essential items to tide you over until your luggage arrives. The airline will usually give you cash or reimburse you if you provide receipts (The Guardian).
  • Have a high protein snack late in the afternoon to tide you over until dinner (discovergoodnutrition.com)
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I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it

I stopped teaching when I had Alisa, but 7 months on I have a new student learning Russian and I’m really enjoying our lessons. On Saturday he asked me about words in Russian that can be used at the beginning of a phrase, or as a filler, but I know that once students learn a filler word it’s impossible to unlearn it – it crops up everywhere! So I diplomatically evaded this and my student said ‘OK, I will cross that bridge when I come to it‘, which is a wonderful phrase, and brand new to me!

The meaning is fairly clear – it’s about dealing with a problem only when it arises.

Here are some examples:

  • You’ll need to repave it every few years, but I guess you’ll cross that bridge when you come to it (Oxford Dictionaries)
  • ‘What if the flight is delayed?’ ‘I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.‘ (The Free Dictionary)
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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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In good (or not so good) nick

in a good nick meaning

Photo credit: calliopegifts.co.uk

Today I went for my regular volunteering shift at the local bookshop – to strengthen my willpower by resisting the temptation to buy more books, to get my weekly fix of chocolate biscuits, to spend time around some lovely people and… hopefully to hear some more cool phrases.

A customer came in asking whether we had any more books by Marina Lewycka apart from A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian that we had in the shop. He said he had seen another book, but it was in such a bad nick that he didn’t get it.

I hear this phrase – ‘in good/bad nick‘ – from other volunteers very often. ‘Nick‘ essentially means ‘condition’.

You can also say that a book that is in a bad nick is ‘tatty‘.

I must say that in the days when I was buying books from charity shops like there was no tomorrow, I did buy some tatty ones, but I ended up donating them back to charity shops as I never read them. Much as I love books – all kind of books – I find that they need to look appealing.

I still find that I have hoarded way too many books and I need to slowly work my way through them so that I could buy new books!

This is how my current ‘to-read list’ looks like (or at least its English section – there’re at least as many books in other languages waiting to be read and they make me feel bad):

bookshelf shelfie

And while we’re on the subject of books and shelves… I recently came across the word ‘shelfie‘, i.e. ‘selfie of your bookshelf’. Here are some shelfies from Guardian readers.

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It’s a long shot

it's a long shot phrase meaning

Photo credit: lindisfarnecottages.co.uk

A few weeks ago I started volunteering at a local charity bookshop. I’ve been thinking about it for a while and finally decided to fill in an application. However, I’m finding that this is only going to aggravate my book-hoarding problem.

Anyway… today a lady came into a shop and approached me and my fellow volunteers saying ‘I know it’s a long shot, but do you think you might have a book…’

I’ve heard this expression on numerous occasions and I am quite fond of it. It means ‘an attempt or guess that is not likely to be successful but that is worth trying’ (MacMillan Dictionary).

More examples of usage:

– It’s a long shot, but well worth trying (Oxford Dictionaries).

– Though not impossible, attempting to obtain permission for residential use would be a long shot (Oxford Dictionaries).

– Mr Yu, a 26-year-old policeman, describes himself as conservative and is looking for a woman with “traditional virtues”. His attendance at the expo, the city’s largest yet, is a long shot; he would prefer a marriage set up by colleagues or by his parents. It worked for them 30 years ago, he says (The Economist).

 

There’s a similar-sounding phrase that I wasn’t aware of – ‘(not) by a long shot‘, meaning ‘(Not) by far or at all’:

– We don’t have our act together in Washington by a long shot (Oxford Dictionaries).

– And in agreement with one of the comments made – Egypt is not ready for democracy, not by a long shot (The Economist).

– Dr Thatcher is dead and her one-time advisors do not have a chemistry degree from Oxford. Not by a long shot (The Economist).

 

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To lock yourself out / in, continued

lock yourself out in

Photo credit: Getty Images

I wrote about these verbs almost a year ago, but today an opportunity to use them presented itself.

Yesterday I went for a run and took my keys off the keyholder. Today when I was leaving house to meet my friend I took the keyholder and when I got to the front door I realised the keys were not there. The front door was locked – I managed to lock myself both out (of my flat) and in (inside the house) – quite an achievement, isn’t it?

I phoned my husband who, luckily, works only 15 minutes away by bike or by bus and while waiting for him I had a chance to catch up on my vocab revision with Anki flashcards.

A few minutes later I heard a buzz. “This must be the postman delivering the parcel with my yoga blocks”, I thought. Our conversation went like this:

Me: Hello? Hello? Hello? 

Postman: …

(I realise this must be the postman who always wears headphones and sunglasses, and obviously cannot hear me).

Me: Hello? 

Postman: Hello?

Me: Hi! Sorry I cannot open the door – I managed to lock myself out of my flat and I don’t have the keys to the front door, but my husband is about to come and rescue me, so could you leave the parcel by the front door please?

Postman: Yes, I’ll leave it by the flowerpot.

Me: Thanks a lot!

 

Phew… My husband arrived just a few minutes later, I got reunited with my yoga blocks and was just in time to meet my friend. All’s well that ends well!

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Geek magnet

geek magnet meaning

Photo credit: hdwallpaperstock.eu

The other day I went to a free self-defence workshop organised by one of the sports clothes shops here in Bristol (maybe I need to mention their name and get paid for this!). It’s not that I’ve been in any situations where I needed to resort to self-defence, but it’s always good to be prepared.

Our instructor was really experienced, both in psychology and martial arts, and she had many stories to share from her personal experience. She called herself “a geek magnet” – someone who seems to attract a disproportionate amount of weird (and sometimes dangerous) people. This is probably not a set expression just yet, but still my inner linguist was clapping her (surely my inner linguist is also female) hands, mostly because my best friend is exactly like that – a proper geek magnet – and now I know that in English there’s perfect phrase to describe her.

However, I was thinking that maybe ‘geek’ doesn’t not always have a negative connotation, and maybe ‘a weirdo magnet‘ would work equally well or even better. Indeed, there’s an entry in Urban Dictionary, with the following example:

– Ashlee is such a weirdo magnet, that guy sniffing paint just sat right next to her (Urban Dictionary)

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To see how the land lies

see how the land lies idiom meaning

Photo credit: artblart.com

Gym seemed to me an unlikely place to hear some new cool phrases, but I was wrong! Today before the start of the class I was eavesdropping (well, I just happened to hear it) on the conversation between our instructor and a couple, who were asking about another gym they were thinking of joining. Our instructor (and they tend to teach at a lot of venues across town) gave a very detailed comparison, but said that they should go and have a look ‘to see how the land lies‘ to see if they like it. I don’t think I’ve heard this one before, but it’s a great expression when you need to find out about something before making a decision.

Here are some more examples of how it’s used:

– You should see how the land lies before going into business on your own (Macmillan Dictionary).

– The policy framework for the low carbon economy is not for business to decide. If this is the future, then business needs to know from politicians how the land lies, and so do we, its future consumers and employees (BBC).

– I don’t blame comedians for making jokes – that’s their job – but the least they could do is have a quick peek online beforehand to see how the land lies (The Guardian).

– Those who had visited Down Under claimed it was the best holiday they had ever experienced, with or without their parents. Sydney was the most popular destination. And riding on a Harley-Davidson along the coast or attending the gay Mardi Gras were the dream activities. Teenagers can visit in their gap year, so why not see how the land lies before they go by themselves (The Guardian).

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