Bats in the Belfry

by Joanne Mason on October 25, 2015

It’s almost Halloween here in the U.S., so I thought it would be fun to explore some “scary” idioms. Today, it’s bats in the belfry. I don’t know about you, but I think bats are pretty frightful creatures. I know they have good qualities. They eat lots of pesky bugs and spread seeds in the rain […]


Dog Days

by Joanne Mason on August 26, 2015

I just heard that it’s National Dog Day!  To celebrate, let’s talk about the dog days of summer. Usually, the dog days are at summer’s peak, when it’s too hot to do anything except lounge around with a glass of iced tea nearby.  You feel sluggish and unmotivated.  Okay, well, I feel sluggish and unmotivated. […]

Rub the Wrong Way

by Joanne Mason on April 1, 2013

Over Easter dessert yesterday, my brother, sister-in-law and I started talking about idioms.  Their cat, Gunther (in the photo), sat contentedly on the arm of the chair while Ellen patted him. Suddenly, she reversed her hand’s direction, so that Gunther’s fur started to stand up on end.  “Hey, Gunther,” she joked.  “I hope I’m not […]


Bull in a China Shop

by Joanne Mason on December 24, 2012

Take a look at this guy. Now imagine him in a china shop, surrounded by crystal wine glasses and fine china teacups. Do you think the merchandise would survive? Someone who is a bull in a china shop is awkward, clumsy, and uncoordinated, with a tendency to disrupt things. Example 1 I can’t take Greg […]


Talk Turkey

by Joanne Mason on November 19, 2012

With Thanksgiving approaching in the U.S. this week, a lot of Americans are talking about turkey. But are they talking turkey? They might be. To talk turkey is to talk seriously, frankly, and directly. Example 1 When the job interview started, we talked about the weather and last night’s baseball game. But soon, we were […]


Happy as a Clam

by Joanne Mason on September 28, 2012

Photo by allison.hare via Flickr “The Big E is the only place you can go year after year and it’s always 1972,” mused my friend Pete one year. And he’s right. “New England’s great state fair” hasn’t changed much in the last few decades.  One mainstay are the clam cakes – my favorite! – even though my […]


Raining Cats and Dogs

by Joanne Mason on July 2, 2012

Photo by ultimatekldevil va Flickr How’s the weather where you are today?  Is it raining cats and dogs? Or is it raining something else? In English, if it’s raining cats and dogs, it’s raining heavily. But in other languages, there might be other things falling from the sky. For example, in Czech, it may rain […]


Ducks In A Row

by Joanne Mason on June 29, 2012

Photo credit: CarbonNYC via Flickr This morning, I was clicking through Forbes’s “Most Annoying Business Jargon” slideshow and found the idiom ducks in a row among the 45 worst offenders. When we have our ducks in a row, we have all our affairs in order. Example 1Cody wants to start looking for a new job soon, […]


Shooting Fish in a Barrel

by Joanne Mason on February 6, 2012

Readers Liz and Anna both sent me this video.  I think this man makes some excellent points! When you say something is like shooting fish in a barrel, you’re saying it’s very, very easy. Example 1 Jared said using this software is like shooting fish in a barrel, but I struggle with it. Example 2 […]

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Rabbit, Rabbit Redux

by Joanne Mason on February 1, 2012

I’m happy to say that this blog is back!  After months of preparing my house and packing up to move (interrupted by a tree that fell through the roof in October), I am finally getting settled in my new place and catching up on life. Since today is February 1, I wanted to re-run this […]