Monthly Archives: December 2016

An Arm and A Leg

I really don’t understand charities. Every year at this time, one of the costliest times of the year, everyone wants more. I bet I get about 5-10 letters a week asking for money. If I was not discriminative about who to give to, it would cost an arm and a leg to go through this season, as if it doesn’t already!

Now, really, an arm and a leg! I do not see anyone walking around without an arm or a leg or both gone just because someone had to spend an exorbitant amount of money. That may be the point. How many people would give up an arm or a leg — that’s a pretty hefty price to pay for anything.

Then, there’s “I’d give my right arm” for __________. Not really. There is no way anyone would have their right arm sawed off for any material want. Or, at least, I hope not. But, we use this idiom when we really yearn for something. It really has no meaning because the object of want is usually something that is unattainable. For instance, our 100 year old mother has passed this earth, but you will hear, “I’d give my right arm to talk with my mother again.” It means the yearning is there, but it’s an impossibility. “I’d give my right arm to win the lottery.” Really!!!

broken-bone-clipart-free-cliparts-that-you-can-download-to-you-kwn3we-clipartThen, take “break a leg”. Usually, this phrase is used in theatre as a performer is readying to go on stage. A stage hand may say, “break a leg”, which means good luck. There’s nothing about  wanting someone to really break a leg.

There are superstitions in this world, and “break a leg” is derived from one.  It is considered bad luck to wish someone good luck in theatre, so “break a leg” became a form of saying good luck. Sometimes you will hear it outside of the theater, wishing someone good luck.

While discussing arms and legs, the other one that is sometimes heard, is getting a “leg up” on something. When you a leg up, you know something that others do not know, or you have had a person help you become successful in your endeavors. This is more than mentoring, it is assuring the success of the endeavor. When you have a mentor, you have a trusted adviser, when you have a leg up, you have the help to make the success a given.

So, in the end, I’d give my right arm to break a leg with Hamilton, even though it would cost me an arm and a leg to leg up on that one!

Have a great one…

And Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays to everyone who does not partake in the Christmas scene. Not for certain I will be writing on Friday…




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I’m Tickled Pink

watercolor-1588805_1280I am just so pleased with myself for getting all my projects completed before the end of the year that I am tickled pink.

No, that does not mean that I am being tickled by a pink feather, but it does mean that I am very pleased with my accomplishments. It could also mean that I am entertained with something, such as I am tickled pink that I was able to see the Rolling Stones concert live.

I could have said I am tickled to death and it means the same, being very pleased or entertained, but it’s just me with the word “death”. How in the world can you be pleased about the phrase “tickled to death”? It reminds me of someone who has been tickled to death. Really. Tickled.  To. Death. I wonder if that has ever happened? Being tickled to death. I know I have laughed so hard I could nearly pee my pants and I think that my heart has stopped when I have been tickled, but I don’t die. Or, when I have laughed so hard at a comedy routine or funny story, the same has happened, but I may feel that I am dying, but I am not even close to death. I am greatly amused.

Oh, I just looked up if you could die from being tickled, and yes, it does happen. Ut oh, I better watch it when I laugh that hard. Actually, you die from a heart attack or asphyxiation (basically, this is choking), but it has happened, and this has been reported as early as the Greek days of long ago. You’re never going to believe what this type of death is called? — fatal hilarity. Now that term tickles my fancy.

The term does appeal to me because it actually says what it means. So much of our English language says one thing but means another. That is my purpose of doing this idiom blog. What in the world do we really mean with all our phrases?

I can say, though, that it does tickle my fancy when I can look up the meaning of anything at the flick of my wrist, especially when I am tickled pink about accomplishing all those projects. After this little bit of research, I am going to steer clear of being tickled to death, even though I could use it in the place of tickled pink, but then, you really can die from being tickled. Oh my! I am always learning something.

Have a great weekend…

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Can’t Make Heads or Tails About It

Last Friday I wrote on “it’s all Greek to me”, which deals with not knowing anything about a subject. In my research, I came across “can’t make heads or tails” about something or someone. Between the two, the second idiom is used more frequently than the first, although the second has a negative connotation.


This Polish Grosz coin head has nothing to do with this idiom (as it is a head of a coin, not the tail).

Or this tail of a whale.


This phrase has everything to do with understanding, or rather, not understanding what a person is about or what their intentions are. In most circumstances, when we use this idiom/phrase, we are using it negatively. For instance, you meet this person and this person does not follow your (or societies) values and the person sees the world different from the majority of people. You want to get to know the person because you enjoy the companionship of people who are just a bit “off-center” but the person is just hard to understand. No matter how hard you try to be friends, you simply can’t — you can’t make heads or tails of the person’s ideas on how he or she conducts his or her life.

Another example. Once, long ago, there was this statistics instructor at the university that everyone was talking about. He knew his statistics but he simply had a hard time conveying the lessons to the students. Although the students liked him as a person, they could not make heads or tails about the information from his lectures. (Not a good thing if it is a required course!) In other words, they did not understand a word from his way of explanation. Another example, I once had a Shakespeare course where the instructor did not hold lectures, we did not discuss the play and we only had one grade at the end of the course where we had to fill in the blanks of lines from Shakespeare’s plays. I could not make heads or tails how this professor could justify passing or failing any of us. (Note: he did retire after the course when everyone complained to the dean).

When you use “it’s all Greek to me” you simply do not understand, it’s like someone is speaking a foreign language that you are not accustomed to. When you use “can’t make heads or tails about it” you are negatively talking about someone or something. It’s not that you don’t understand, it’s that you do not understand how that person or idea is being conveyed. It’s my only hope that you can make heads or tails from this explanation.

Otherwise, have a great week. I’ll post again on Friday…

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It’s All Greek to Me

Knowing me, when I see the word Greek, I think of Greece.


The Temple Poseidon, courtesy of

Greece –You know, the country of islands in the Mediterranean Sea and the Ionian Sea, the one that has so much ancient history, and one country which I would love to visit one day.

But, the phrase, “it’s all Greek to me” has nothing to do with the country. At all. It has everything to do with not understanding something at all. For instance, I can pretty well read any type of text, and I can understand the content. But, because I am not familiar with the sciences or with medical terms, those reading contents might as well be in Greek. I have no clue what it means when the writer gets technical with the terms. I might as well be attempting to read a  foreign newspaper, one where I have never seen the language before.

The same holds true when people talk in their professional jargon. For instance, I have many friends who are nurses, and usually it is okay to listen to some of their terms as they talk with me, I can filter through to understand the jest of what is being said, but when they get together and I am the odd man out, I might as well be someplace else. I have no clue what they are saying when they start with the medical and pharmaceutical terms. It’s all Greek to me. I have no clue. None. Zilch. Nada.

medieval_writing_deskThere is some Greek, though, in this idiom’s past. Long ago in the Middle Ages, the Medieval times, Roman Catholic monks worked as scribes, copying the Bibles by hand. Probably at an earlier time there were enough monks who knew the Greek language as they deciphered the alphabet from one language to another, and with time, everything changes. To understand the foreign tongue was becoming harder as those fluent in the Greek language passed from this world to the next.


Wikipedia explained that those monks used a Latin term, “Graecum est, non legitur”, meaning it is Greek, (therefore) it can not be read.

I know it would take me a lifetime to learn the ancient Greek letters.


Also, one of the earlier uses found of this term was by Shakespeare in his Julius Caesar.

Today, well, today, we use it rarely, but in that situation where something is not understood in the slightest, and there is no way to explain how or why we do not understand, you just might hear, “It’s all Greek to me!”

Have a great weekend….





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And How!


The exclamation mark — used to indicate a strong feeling.


Sometimes, simply the words we use are a given for the punctuation mark we make, or the tone of voice we use, or the way we say it.

And How! is one of those phrases. Simply, it means that the listener is agreeing with what the speaker has said, and the listener uses the phrase to emphasize that the statement is exactly what he thinks, too. Such as, “When I go to a buffet, I always overeat and then feel miserable for the rest of the day.” The listener agrees, but wants to emphasize that is exactly how he feels, too, so he responds, “And how!”

This phrase is used casually when we agree with someone, but it is an opinion. Such as, “Wow! did you see him hit that ball?” meaning it was a good play, and might get a response of “And how!” agreeing, Wow! that was a good hit. But, it’s an opinion — one person’s good hit is not another person’s good hit. (But we won’t get into that right now!)

On the flip side of the “And how” exclamation is “You’d better believe it!”

We use “you’d better believe it” when we know something is true and the message should be taken seriously. Such as, “Climate change should be considered a future threat to our existence and should be investigated thoroughly.” which could get the response of “You’d better believe it!” The second speaker wants to emphasize that the topic is true and should be taken seriously.

“Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking are two of the greatest minds of our times”

“You better believe that!”

And with that, I leave you with two quotes:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge” — Albert Einstein

“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change” — Stephen Hawking

Until Friday…have a good one!


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Hit the Spot

20160923_174807No, “hit the spot” has nothing to do with hitting — slapping, paddling, punching — you know, causing physical harm. In fact, hitting has nothing to do with this idiom, unless if you want to think that “hit” means to aim at a target, such as a bull’s eye, or your stomach, or a place in your brain, a spot, that tells you when you are satisfied.

We really do not use “hit the spot” in general terms for aiming at a bull’s eye because most of us do not shoot at a shooting gallery or an archery spot. We may use that term if we are dart players, and we are aiming at the bull’s eye on the dart board, but the term is not readily used except when it comes to food.

Ah…food. We do like to eat in America, and there are plenty of restaurants to prove that! But, we can eat and eat, and sometimes that food does not hit the spot. It’s not about eating, it’s about eating what we have a taste for. For instance, if I really want a burger, and everyone else wants seafood, I may go along for the camaraderie, but the seafood is not really going to satisfy my taste. I want that burger. But, if we go for a burger, and it is a good, juicy hand-packed burger grilled to my specifications with swiss cheese and mushrooms galore, it is going to hit the spot. Once I taste what I have visualized my brain will tell me my desire has been satisfied. My tasting that burger has gone to that spot in my brain and hit it. I am satisfied.

True, sometimes you will hear that getting a “cat nap” hit the spot because it is exactly what was needed at that moment, but we basically use the idiom for food and beverage.

Think about it. What is the best on a hot day? Lemonade or a cold beer may hit the spot. Even though we love our coffee, coffee will never hit the spot on a hot day. We like the contrast of hot/cold. Once again, it is our brain talking to us. I could not imagine that my brain is going to want hot coffee or hot chocolate when it is 100 out. And vice versa. Could you imagine having an ice cold drink standing in sub-zero weather? That would definitely not hit the spot! But steaming hot coffee. Definitely. It would hit the spot.

Then, there are times when no certain food plays a part of the equation. So, nothing will hit the spot. But then, thinking about food, and earlier today I was thinking about pizza, but I thought, maybe another day. Now, I am really thinking about pizza. It would hit the spot, because it was on my mind earlier, and my brain has played with my taste buds for the better part of the day.  When I get the pizza tomorrow, it will really hit the spot. Tonight. Well, it looks like it will be a left-over kinda night for me, which will not hit any spot. But tomorrow — my brain is working overtime right now. It’s yelling pizza, pizza. All I have to do is refrain from eating everything in sight until I get my “hit the spot” fix.

Hey, have a great weekend.

What hits your spot?





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