1.4: Idioms 31-40

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Idioms 21-30
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Idioms 41-50

 

On a fool’s errand



Some politicians are so concerned about fake news that they want the government to regulate it and force social media to police what their users post. A proposed law would impose huge fines on social media networks for not complying with this new law. Critics say that policing fake or hateful speech on the internet is a fool’s errand that would just lead to more bureaucracy and censorship. A fool’s errand is a task or activity that has no hope of success.

 

On a shoestring



Low cost airlines made it possible for people in rich and wealthy countries to travel to poorer countries for a very low fare. Once there, these tourists are able to get by on a shoestring budget with very little effort thanks to the internet and websites featuring low-cost accommodation. Today it is very easy for people to take vacations abroad on a shoestring budget. On a shoestring budget means with very little money to spend.

 

On the back burner



A lot of governments are operating at a budget deficit. That means that they are spending more money than they are raising through taxes. In the long-term this can create a big problem when the debt grows too large and becomes unsustainable. Since many politicians prefer to focus on their next term in government they just kick the can down the road or put it on the back burner. To kick the can down the road means to put off confronting a difficult issue or making an important decision, typically on a continuing basis. If something is on the back burner, it is temporarily not being dealt with or considered. This may be because it is not
urgent or important.

 

The power behind the throne



Some visitors to countries in North Africa and the Middle East make the mistaken assumption that the society is completely dominated by men. As they start making local friends they may discover that in some families the situation is a bit more complex. The wife may actually be the person who is the real power behind the throne in the family. The power behind the throne is the person who actually controls the person who is apparently in charge.

 

Rise to the occasion



Soccer or football as it is called in the UK has become a huge industry in many countries. In the UK, for example, it is estimated that football clubs have created up to 100.000 jobs and make a contribution of almost 3.5 billion pounds to UK GDP. A few big, well-funded, clubs dominate the league and cup. But in the first round of cup games, smaller lesser known teams sometimes surprise the bigger ones and rise to the occasion. To rise to the occasion means to perform better than usual in response to a special situation or event.

 

Ruffle someone’s feathers



We all have our hot buttons. Hot buttons are emotional or controversial issues and concerns that trigger an immediate intense reaction. Many people get into their daily routines and the only emotion they experience is when they watch something on TV or in the cinema. Because they lack strong relationships, they may not discuss the emotions dominating their thoughts. So when you give someone the opportunity to discuss something bothering them or that they’re really excited about, you stand out from the crowd. Just make sure that you don’t ruffle their feathers on some controversial or sensitive issues. To ruffle someone’s feathers means to cause someone to become annoyed or upset.

 

Run rings around someone



Upon independence from Malaysia in 1965, Singapore was one of the poorer countries in South East Asia with no natural resources and high levels of unemployment and poverty. Once-poor Singapore has since run rings around other economies in the region and even surpassed the UK and more advanced countries in terms of GDP per capita. If someone runs rings round you, they are very much better, faster, or more successful at something than you are.

 

Something is fishy



A lot of fraudsters and con artists use online dating websites to meet their victims. Typically they create fake profiles and build trust with you. Then suddenly they have an emergency and ask you for money. If you give them money, they suddenly need money for rent too, then food, then medical fees, and so on. If the picture of the other person looks fake, their story doesn’t fit and they are never available to Skype or do a video call on WhatsApp, then something probably is fishy. If something is fishy it often means that you think that something is suspicious. Fishy usually refers to situations that are suspect or shady.

 

String someone along



Cushioning is yet another online dating trend. It is the practice of making sure that you have some insurance on the side in case your relationship goes sour. So cushioning cheats don’t break up a relationship but string the other person along, just to make sure that there’s someone to cushion the blow if they get dumped or things don’t work out. To string someone along means to falsely give someone hope or mislead them deliberately over a length of time, especially about one’s intentions. In this case, the ‘cushioner’ is keeping you at their disposal but they are also in a relationship with someone else.

 

Take a long shot



When a famous reality TV star and businessman decided to enter the race for president of the USA, most observers thought that he was taking a long shot and would not succeed. But somehow he was able to capture the spirit or mood of enough voters to actually make it. To take a shot means to have a try or take a chance at something. To take a long shot means a venture involving great risk that is not likely to succeed.

 

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Idioms 21-30
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Idioms 41-50