Everything But The Kitchen Sink

by Joanne Mason on May 3, 2013

When you pack for vacation, what do you bring with you?  Do you travel light?  Or do you take everything but the kitchen sink? If you take everything but the kitchen sink, your luggage is very heavy! You bring everything imaginable, even things you might not need or want. Example 1 Francine took everything but […]


Busman’s Holiday

by Joanne Mason on January 14, 2013

Not long ago, my friend Josh (seen here) sent this photo of himself in front of a casino in Las Vegas, where he was vacationing. He also added the caption “busman’s holiday.” Why? Because he works at a casino on the East Coast. When you take a busman’s holiday, you spend your free time doing […]


Please Vote for About English Idioms!

by Joanne Mason on December 22, 2012

I’m excited and honored to announce that About English Idioms has been nominated for a Macmillan Dictionary Love English Award!  This award goes to the best blog about the English language.  (There is a category for best website, too.) May I ask for your vote?  It’s easy to do – just click here, scroll down […]


Run Hot and Cold

by Joanne Mason on October 12, 2012

Photo by Marcin Wichary via Flickr Tonight we’re expecting our first frost in this part of New England, which means the temperatures are expected to go below freezing. It seems that fall is finally here, which is welcome news to me after weeks of fluctuating weather. It’s hot, it’s cold, it’s hot, it’s cold…as my […]


Business Jargon

by Joanne Mason on July 9, 2012

I’ve been seeing lots of “annoying business jargon” lists these days – lists of words and phrases that are so overused they really get our goat. But I think this video from Integration Training is the best compilation of all: Now it’s your turn!  What’s on your list?


Ghost Town

by Joanne Mason on July 4, 2012

Photo by mikebaird via Flickr I feel like the phrase ghost town has been following me around for the last few days. First, a friend posted a link to Prefab Sprout’s “Ghost Town Blues” on his Facebook wall. Then, I saw this Mental Floss article about Bodie, California – “the last best ghost town.” Finally, a […]


Read (Someone) the Riot Act

by Joanne Mason on February 8, 2012

Photo by bobaliciouslondon via Flickr I pulled out Elvis Costello’s “Get Happy!” album the other day, which I hadn’t heard in ages.  The last track, “Riot Act,” got me thinking of this idiom.  When you read someone the riot act, you give that person a severe scolding. Example 1 Joseph made a careless error in the budget.  […]


Yes Man (or Yes Woman)

by Joanne Mason on February 3, 2012

The Super Bowl, arguably the biggest U.S. sporting event of the year, will be played this Sunday.   I’m not a football fan, so I won’t watch the game.  But I might watch the commercials. Super Bowl advertising is huge.  Forbes reports that a 30-second spot is costing advertisers up to $3.5 million this year.  And […]


Phrases from our Mothers

by Joanne Mason on May 9, 2011

Yesterday was Mother’s Day here in the U.S., so I thought it would be fun to look at some of the phrases our mothers say. One of my mother’s favorite phrases was: That’s the way the mop flops. It means “that’s just the way it is” or “that’s life.”  She had a few variations, too: […]


Up One’s Sleeve

by Joanne Mason on April 25, 2011

Have you got something up your sleeve? An actor friend of mine did when he proposed marriage to his girlfriend.  He was in a play and she was in the audience.  Beforehand, he had talked to the other actors and arranged to change the ending of the play to incorporate his proposal. Many of his […]