Advertising
Advertising

10 Funky Illustrations to Help You Understand English Idioms

10 Funky Illustrations to Help You Understand English Idioms

Travel opens the mind, so they say. This certainly seems to be the case for Roisin Hahessy, a freelance illustrator from Ireland. After moving to Brazil, learning to speak Portuguese and teaching English at the same time, she began to think more about her own language.

Hahessy writes, “When I stopped to think about some English idioms and their literal meaning, I found some of them very funny and thought it would be a nice idea to pick a few of the most common idioms and illustrate them.”

So, she created a series of illustrations depicting ten common English idioms — that is, phrases whose meanings are not to be taken literally. Her bright, funny illustrations show a quirkier side of our language, and show how the phrases we use might not always make sense to non native English speakers.

1. Blue in the face

blue-in-the-face

    This idiom describes a feeling of great exasperation and frustration. No doubt related to the way your skin goes the blue in the absence of oxygen.

    Example usage:

    “You can argue until you’re blue in the face, but that doesn’t make you right.”

    2. Bob’s your uncle

    bobs-your-uncle

      Nobody is really sure who Bob is, but this is a delightful way of expressing how easy something is. It’s also a colloquial way of saying, “it’s done”, “there you go”. Or as the French would say, “ et voila”.

      Advertising

      (Pro tip: After saying “Bob’s your uncle” you can add “And Fanny’s your aunt”.)

      Example usage:

      “The app is really easy to use. Just press the green button and Bob’s your uncle.”

      3. Kick the bucket

      kick-the-bucket

        Should only be used in an informal situation. In the wrong context, this idiom can make you sound callous and insensitive.

        Example usage:

        “My goldfish has been ill for weeks. I think he’s about to kick the bucket.”

        4. Hold your horses

        hold-your-horses

          This one has a more literal meaning. Hold up! Stop! Wait! Useful in all situations requiring some urgency.

          Advertising

          Example usage:

          “Hold your horses. I think we’ve taken a wrong turn. Let me check the map.”

          5. A piece of cake

          a-piece-of-cake

            This is similar to the American expression, “a cakewalk”. The origins of this idiom aren’t fully known, but they’re easily understood. I mean, how difficult is it to eat a delicious slice of cake?

            Example usage:

            “Don’t worry about the entrance exam. You’ll be fine, it’s a piece of cake.”

            6. Head in the clouds

            head-in-the-clouds

              Clouds are synonymous with drifting, daydreaming, loftiness. Having your head in the clouds implies being somehow removed from everyday reality. The opposite of this idiom would be someone who has their “feet on the ground”.

              Example usage:

              Advertising

              “Sometimes I wonder if John is being realistic about his goals. He always seems to have his head in the clouds.”

              7. Heart in your mouth

              heart-in-your-mouth

                Used to describe visceral fear or stress. The kind that you feel in your whole body. Imagine the aeroplane hatch opening on your first parachute jump. Or someone jumping out in front of you in a dark, dangerous alley at night. You get the picture.

                Example usage:

                “Have you been on the new rollercoaster? It’s a real heart in your mouth experience.”

                8. Dead as a doornail

                dead-as-a-doornail

                  This expression works just as well for objects, as people or animals. Great for describing broken machinery or technology that refuses to respond.

                  Example usage:

                  “I was watching TV, and suddenly there was a bang and a puff of smoke. Now it’s dead as a doornail.”

                  Advertising

                  9. As cool as a cucumber

                  cool-as-a-cucumber

                    Not to be confused with cool as in hip, trendy or fashionable. This is someone who stays calm when everyone else around is getting anxious and stressed out. A great example is Chesley Sullenberger, the airline pilot who made a miracle emergency landing in the Hudson river in 2009.

                    Example usage:

                    “That was a really tense business meeting, but you were as cool as a cucumber.”

                    10. Storm in a teacup

                    storm-in-a-teacup

                      We Brits love drinking tea. So when someone gets upset about a relatively trivial matter, we call it a storm in a teacup. Similar to the equally amusing idiom “mountain out of a molehill”.

                      Example usage:

                      “Don’t worry, he’s not angry, he’s just making a storm in a teacup.”

                      If you enjoyed this post, you’ll find loads more language and communication hacks at Lifehack.org

                      Featured photo credit: ARSENAL-GILLESPIE ROAD-09 240710 CPS/ Chris Sampson via flickr.com

                      More by this author

                      5 Phone Habits That Are Destroying Your Relationship (And How To Fix Them) 10 Funky Illustrations to Help You Understand English Idioms

                      Trending in Communication

                      1 What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People 2 How To Be Happy Alone and Enjoy Life 3 10 Warning Signs of Low Self-Esteem and a Lack of Confidence 4 10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Overcome Your Fear 5 The Lifehack Show Episode 3: Why Validation is Key to Lasting Relationships

                      Read Next

                      Advertising
                      Advertising
                      Advertising

                      Last Updated on July 18, 2019

                      What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People

                      What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People

                      Some people just seem to float through life with a relentless sense of happiness – through the toughest of times, they’re unfazed and aloof, stopping to smell the roses and drinking out of a glass half full.

                      They may not have much to be happy about, but the simplicity behind that fact itself may make them happy.

                      It’s all a matter of perspective, conscious effort and self-awareness. Listed below are a number of reasons why some people are always happy.

                      1. They Manage Their Expectations

                      They’re not crushed when they don’t get what they want – or misled into expecting to get the most out of every situation. They approach every situation pragmatically, hoping for the best but being prepared for the worst.

                      2. They Don’t Set Unrealistic Standards

                      Similar to the last point, they don’t live their lives in a constant pursuit towards impossible visions of perfection, only to always find themselves falling short of what they want.

                      3. They Don’t Take Anything for Granted

                      Happiness rests with feeling fulfilled – those who fail to stop and appreciate what they have every now and again will never experience true fulfillment.

                      Advertising

                      4. They’re Not Materialistic

                      There are arguing viewpoints on whether or not money can really buy happiness; if it can, then we know from experience that we can never be satisfied because there will always be something newer or better that we want. Who has ever had enough money?

                      5. They Don’t Dwell

                      They don’t sweat the small things or waste time worrying about things that don’t really matter at the end of the day. They don’t let negative thoughts latch onto them and drain them or distract them. Life’s too short to worry.

                      6. They Care About Themselves First

                      They’re independent, care for themselves and understand that they must put their needs first in order to accommodate the needs of others.

                      They indulge, aim to get what they want, make time for themselves and are extremely self-reliant.

                      7. They Enjoy the Little Things

                      They stop to smell the roses. They’re accustomed to find serenity when it’s available, to welcome entertainment or a stimulating discussion with a stranger when it crosses their path. They don’t overlook the small things in life that can be just as important.

                      8. They Can Adapt

                      They’re not afraid of change and they work to make the most out of new circumstances, good or bad. They thrive under pressure, are not overwhelmed easily and always embrace a change of pace.

                      Advertising

                      9. They Experiment

                      They try new things, experience new flavors and never shy away from something they have yet to experience. They never order twice from the same menu.

                      10. They Take Their Time

                      They don’t unnecessarily rush through life. They work on their own schedule to the extent that they can and maneuver through life at their own relaxing pace.

                      11. They Employ Different Perspectives

                      They’re not stuck in one perspective; a loss can result in a new opportunity, hitting rock bottom can mean that there’s no where to go but up.

                      12. They Seek to Learn

                      Their constant pursuit of knowledge keeps them inspired and interested in life. They cherish information and are on a life-long quest to learn as much as they can.

                      13. They Always Have a Plan

                      They don’t find themselves drifting without purpose. When something doesn’t go as planned, they have a plan for every letter in the alphabet to fall back on.

                      14. They Give Respect to Get It

                      They are respectful and, in turn, are seen as respectable; the respect they exude earns them the respect they deserve.

                      Advertising

                      15. They Consider Every Opportunity

                      They always have their eyes open for a new road, a new avenue worth exploring. They know how to recognize opportune moments and pounce on them to make the most of every situation. Success is inevitable for them.

                      16. They Always Seek to Improve

                      Perpetual self-improvement is the key towards their ongoing thirst for success. Whatever it is they do, they take pride in getting better and better, from social interactions to mundane tasks. Their pursuit at being the best eventually materializes.

                      17. They Don’t Take Life Too Seriously

                      They’re not ones to get offended easily over-analyze or complicate matters. They laugh at their own faults and misfortunes.

                      18. They Live in the Moment

                      They don’t live for tomorrow or dwell on what may have happened yesterday. Every day is a new opportunity, a new chapter. They live in the now, and in doing so, get the most out of every moment.

                      You can learn how to do so too: How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Past or Future

                      19. They Say Yes

                      Much more often than they say no. They don’t have to be badgered to go out, don’t shy away from new opportunities or anything that may seem inconvenient.

                      Advertising

                      20. They’re Self-Aware

                      Most important, they’re wholly aware of themselves. They self-reflect and are conscious of their states of mind. If somethings bothering them, they fix it.

                      We’re all susceptible to feeling down every now and again, but we are all equipped with the necessary solutions that just have to be discovered.

                      Lack of confidence, inability to feel fulfilled, and susceptibility to stress are all matters that can be controlled through the way we handle our lives and perceive our circumstances.

                      Learn about How Self-Reflection Gives You a Happier and More Successful Life.

                      Final Thoughts

                      The main philosophy employed by the happiest includes the idea that life’s simply too short: life’s too short to let things get you down, to take things for granted, to pursue absolute and unrealistic perfection.

                      For some, employing these characteristics is a second nature – they do it without knowing. For others, a conscious effort must be put forth every now and again. Self-Awareness is key.

                      More About Happiness

                      Featured photo credit: Charles Postiaux via unsplash.com

                      Read Next