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We autumn learn some idioms
Ahhhhh autumn, the season of red, orange, yellow, brown and purple. Leaves fall to the ground like a carpet which is both soft and crisp to walk on. They are raked up into small piles which the kids love jumping into.
It’s harvest season, both humans and animals alike collect and prepare fruit, vegetables, nuts and grains, for the long winter ahead. And when the days become shorter, we bake pumpkin and apple pies, warm and spicy, to warm the cockles of our hearts.
‘What has all this got to do with English?’ I hear you ask. Well, language changes as the seasons change. Why not include some autumn related idioms when you speak or write?
Here are a few.
1. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree
When apples fall from their trees they fall close to the tree, they don’t go very far. This has led to the creation of this idiom as character, behaviour, attitude and looks are inherited from our family. We are closely tied to our family just as the apple is to the tree.
‘Just like her mum she has become a world class tennis player. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.’
2. Drive someone nuts
Nut is a word used not only to describe the squirrel’s favourite food but it is another way of saying ‘head’. To be off one’s nut was an expression that meant to be crazy. Hence the idiom to drive someone nuts came about to meaning making someone go crazy.
‘The children haven’t stopped shouting today, they are driving me nuts!’
3. Turn over a new leaf
Leaf here refers to page, the page of a book. When you turn a page, you get a new one, a blank page to start afresh. Turning over a new leaf means starting something new, from the beginning. Starting something in a different or better way to get a better result.
‘I have decided to turn over a new leaf. I am going to start doing all my homework and assignments to get the best possible grade I can.’
4. Save for a rainy day
A rainy day is usually gloomy with grey cloudy skies. It represents difficult times. Saving for a rainy day means preparing for difficult times ahead, putting something aside until it is needed.
‘I’m saving half of the lottery winnings for a rainy day. You never know when you might need it.’
5. Get wind of something
Wind may carry lots of information, just ask animals. A predator will stand upwind so that its prey will not catch its scent and run away. Similarly, getting wind of something is learning about something which should have been a secret.
‘If the press gets wind of this, our campaign is over before we even get to the elections.’
6. Turn into a pumpkin
Do you remember Cinderella? She was warned, by her fairy godmother, to be home by midnight because that is when the magic wears off and among other things, her carriage turned into a pumpkin. This is where this idiom comes from. We use it when we want to say the day is over, it is time to go home, time for bed or time to sleep. It is also used to show a curfew, especially when it is around midnight.
‘I’d better leave, it is so late I’m going to turn into a pumpkin.’
So there you have it. Six idioms to use during this wonderful season which is not only the transition between summer and winter but is also the season of mid-term holidays, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Black Friday.
Focus on Fluency
• The heading ‘We autumn learn some idioms’, ‘autumn’ loosely sounds like ‘ought to’ meaning ‘should’. It is a play on the word to bring in the theme of the blog piece.
• rake up – bring together using a rake (a garden tool which is used to clean up grass, leaves etc.)
• pile – a mass of things all on top of each other
• to warm the cockles of one’s heart – to make one feel good, happy
• inherit – to receive (e.g. money, property etc) from someone who died
• world-class – among the best in the world
• squirrel – a small animal with a bushy tail that lives in trees and eats nuts and seeds
• come about – start to happen
• afresh – in a new way
• predator – an animal that hunts and eats other animals
• upwind – in the opposite direction in which the wind is blowing
• scent – the smell of an animal which other animals can pick up
• campaign – planned activities to achieve a goal
• fairy godmother – a kind woman with magical powers in fairy tales
• wear off – to stop being effective
Author: Michela Formosa
About the Author: Michela Formosa has been the Director of Studies at ESE since 2009 and has been active in the industry for the past 18 years both as a teacher and a teacher trainer. In addition, she was a speaker at the ELT Conferences in Malta as well as the Eaquals Conference in Malaga in 2015. In October 2015, Michela received the Inspiring ELT Professional Award 2015 at the 4th Malta ELT Conference.
Articles in this blog may be ESE news, academics pieces written by our team or events in Malta of general interest. Please feel free to write to us with any comments, suggestions or any articles you may have written and would like to share with us and our students.