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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”.

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      (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.

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          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:

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              “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.”

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                  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

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                      Last Updated on September 17, 2019

                      10 Simple Ways To Always Think Positive Thoughts

                      10 Simple Ways To Always Think Positive Thoughts

                      Positive thinking can lead to a lot of positive change in your life. Developing an optimistic outlook can be good for both your physical and mental health.

                      But sometimes, certain situations arise in life that makes it hard to keep a positive outlook. Take steps to make positive thinking become more like your second nature and you’ll reap the biggest benefits.

                      Here are 10 ways to make thinking positive thoughts easy:

                      1. Spend Time with Positive People

                      If you surround yourself with constant complainers, their negativity is likely to rub off on you.

                      Spend time with positive friends and family members to increase the likelihood that their positive thinking habits will become yours too. It’s hard to be negative when everyone around you is so positive.

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                      2. Take Responsibility for Your Behavior

                      When you encounter problems and difficulties in life, don’t play the role of the victim. Acknowledge your role in the situation and take responsibility for your behavior.

                      Accepting responsibility can help you learn from mistakes and prevent you from blaming others unfairly.

                      3. Contribute to the Community

                      One of the best ways to feel good about what you have, is to focus on what you have to give.

                      Volunteer in some manner and give back to the community. Helping others can give you a new outlook on the world and can assist you with positive thinking.

                      4. Read Positive and Inspirational Materials

                      Spend time each day reading something that encourages positive thinking. Read the Bible, spiritual material, or inspirational quotes to help you focus on what’s important to you in life. It can be a great way to start and end your day.

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                      Some recommendations for you:

                      5. Recognize and Replace Negative Thoughts

                      You won’t be successful at positive thinking if you’re still plagued by frequent negative thoughts. Learn to recognize and replace thoughts that are overly negative. Often, thoughts that include words like “always” and “never” signal that they aren’t true.

                      If you find yourself thinking something such as, “I always mess everything up,” replace it with something more realistic such as, “Sometimes I make mistakes but I learn from them.”

                      There’s no need to make your thoughts unrealistically positive, but instead, make them more realistic.

                      6. Establish and Work Toward Goals

                      It’s easier to be positive about problems and setbacks when you have goals that you’re working toward. Goals will give you motivation to overcome those obstacles when you encounter problems along the way. Without clear goals, it’s harder to make decisions and gauge your progress.

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                      Learn to set SMART goals to help you achieve more.

                      7. Consider the Consequences of Negativity

                      Spend some time thinking about the consequences of negative thinking. Often, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

                      For example, a person who thinks, “I probably won’t get this job interview,” may put less effort into the interview. As a result, he may decrease his chances of getting the job.

                      Create a list of all the ways negative thinking impacts your life. It likely influences your behavior, your relationships, and your feelings. Then, create a list of the ways in which positive thinking could be beneficial.

                      8. Offer Compliments to Others

                      Look for reasons to compliment others. Be genuine in your praise and compliments, but offer it frequently. This will help you look for the good in other people.

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                      9. Create a Daily Gratitude List

                      If you start keeping a daily gratitude list, you’ll start noticing exactly how much you have to be thankful for. This can help you focus on the positive in your life instead of thinking about all the bad things that have happened in the day.

                      Getting in the habit of showing an attitude of gratitude makes positive thinking more of a habit. Here’re 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude.

                      10. Practice Self-Care

                      Take good care of yourself and you’ll be more equipped to think positively.

                      Get plenty of rest and exercise and practice managing your stress well. Taking care of your physical and mental health will provide you with more energy to focus on positive thinking.

                      Learn about these 30 Self-Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit.

                      More About Staying Positive

                      Featured photo credit: DESIGNECOLOGIST via unsplash.com

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