Archive for the ‘My Phrases’ Category

German word: Ahnung
English translation: hunch
Part of speech: noun

Example sentence
German: Ich habe überhaupt keine Ahnung!
English: I have absolutely no idea!


Dressed to the nines

Posted: April 15, 2011 in My Phrases


Dressed flamboyantly or smartly

Fell off the back of a truck

Posted: April 9, 2011 in My Phrases


A euphemism for ‘acquired illegally’.


When anyone accounts for their possession of an article by saying it ‘fell off the back of a truck’ or ‘fell off the back of a lorry’, they may be assumed not to be its legal owner – i.e. it is stolen. ‘Lorry’ is the British version; in the USA and Australia things fall from trucks. This coy language, which feigns innocence but actually emphasizes illegality by using a phrase that is reserved for illegal dealing, is similar to The Godfather’s ‘an offer he can’t refuse‘.

Doff your hat

Posted: April 5, 2011 in My Phrases


Raise your hat in acknowledgement of or deference to another.


Beyond the pale

Posted: April 2, 2011 in My Phrases

Unacceptable; outside agreed standards of decency.


Firstly, let’s get the spelling clear here. It’s ‘beyond the pale‘, and certainly not ‘beyond the pail‘ – the phrase has nothing to do with buckets. The everyday use of the word ‘pale’ is as an adjective meaning whitish and light in colour (and used to that effect by Procol Harum and in countless paint adverts). This ‘pale’ is the noun meaning ‘a stake or pointed piece of wood’. That meaning is virtually obsolete now except as used in this phrase, but is still in use in the associated words ‘paling’ (as in paling fence) and ‘impale’ (as in Dracula movies).

“Both Dove-like roved forth beyond the pale to planted Myrtle-walk”.

Carpe diem

Posted: October 1, 2010 in My Phrases


‘Carpe diem’ is usually translated from the Latin as ‘seize the day’. However, the more pedantic of Latin scholars may very well seize you by the throat if you suggest that translation. ‘Carpe’ translates literally as ‘pluck’, with particular reference to the picking of fruit, so a more accurate rendition is ‘enjoy the day, pluck the day when it is ripe’. The extended version of the phrase ‘carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero’ translates as ‘Pluck the day, trusting as little as possible in the future’.

The meaning is similar to that of many proverbs that we continue to use in English and is a warning to make the most of the time we have, with the implication that our time on Earth is short. Other such proverbs are ‘Strike while the iron is hot‘, ‘The early bird catches the worm‘, ‘Gather ye rosebuds while ye may’, and so on.

Cash on the nail

Posted: September 18, 2010 in My Phrases

Meaning :- Payment made immediately.

‘Cash on the nail’ (or ‘pay on the nail’) is an extension of the earlier phrase – ‘on the nail’, meaning immediate payment; without delay. This expression is first recorded in English in Thomas Nashe’s Haue with you to Saffron-Walden, 1596

Pigs might fly

Posted: September 10, 2010 in My Phrases

A humourous/sarcastic remark, used to indicate the unlikeliness of some event or to mock the credulity of others. For example, “I might make a start on papering the back bedroom tomorrow”. “Yes, and pigs might fly”.

“Dog in the manger “

Posted: September 3, 2010 in My Phrases

Spiteful and mean-spirited.

The infamous ‘dog in a manger’, who occupied the manger not because he wanted to eat the hay there but to prevent the other animals from doing so.

Once in a blue moon

Posted: August 20, 2010 in My Phrases

Meaning Very rarely.