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The world is someone's oyster

Shakespeare used this remark in one of his plays. If he were alive today there's no doubt the world would be his oyster for it means to be able to do whatever or go wherever one wants in life. Having luck and some money would be an advantage, of course. "I've just sold a play ! The world's my oyster," William cried.



Time and time again

Time and again Oliver's parents warned him about playing in the sand near the clock factory. Oliver didn't heed their warnings .. and that's why time and time again he finds himself riding back and forth inside an hourglass. Time and ( time ) again means often or on many occasions.



A tongue twister

If you can say "Certain savory soaring insects sailing skyward at the seaside certainly cause Cecil confusion" without making a mistake, you have just done something Cecil can't do. That is, you have said a tongue twister. A tongue twister is a sentence, phrase or word that is difficult to say without making an error.



Tourist trap

A shop, a restaurant, a bar, or any place that uses tourists greedily to profit from them is called a tourist trap. "Wilcox returned from Miami saying it was a terrible tourist trap." "Kitty and Floyd visited a tourist trap in Paris where they were charged $250 for just two drinks !"



Turn over a new leaf

Walter was greedy. He ate so much he couldn't move. Then a bird swooped down and ate him. Walter's last words were, "If I could live my life again, I'd turn over a new leaf and learn to control my appetite !" "To turn over a new leaf is to change one's way of acting or thinking in order to improve oneself.



Turn the tables

In this illustration we see that the cook and the waitress have grown tired of working. Today they have turned the tables on their customers and are insisting that they wait on them. To turn the tables is to change a situation completely around so that you gain an advantage over those who once had an advantage over you. ( In this idiom, it's always tables -- never table )


Under someone's spell

There's something so enchanting, so compelling, so overwhelming about her that Marvin has come under Lizzie's spell. If you should ever be near Lizzie, be careful ! To be under someone' spell is to be unable to resist his or her influence. "I can't explain it but Lizzie has me under her spell," Marvin sighed.



Use one's head

It seems to me if I use my head I should be able to think of a way to get out of this place," Albert thought. Apparently Albert doesn't know that to use one's head is to use one's mind to think intelligently. "Give me some help, "Albert said. I've used my head and have thought of a way to get out of here."



Walk a tightrope

This idiom originated with acrobats who perform dangerous acts on tightropes. When someone walks a tightrope he's in an awkward or hazardous situation where he cannot afford to make mistake."I walk a tightrope trying to please my boss, keep the audience happy, and not make any errors," Eric sighed.



Walls have ears

If you have a secret or information that you'd like to keep private, it's well to take care how you reveal it to someone. Walls have ears. It is said and too often our most intimate conversations have a way of being overheard. "Pass this on to Julia -- but be careful about it. Remember, the walls have ears," Agnes whispered.


Never take no for an answer

Mandy is a very, very determined girl. When she wants something she usually gets it for she will not take no for an answer. People like Mandy refuse to pay attention when a person says "No !" "Hurry along, Harry. You know I never take no fro an answer," Mandy smiled.



Work hand in glove

"We've got a new patient today," the doctor said, "but working hand in glove we'll soon have him well and on his feet, nurse." what the doctor is saying is that by working together he and the nurse will accomplish the tasks, for to work hand in glove means to work in close partnership with someone.


Worlds apart

I thought we all lived in one world. This idiom, though, says that there is more than one. What's more, to be worlds apart means to be completely different or in total disagreement. "The twins look alike but their characters are worlds apart." "Jack and Anna never agree on anything. They're worlds apart in their thinking."



Worth one's/its weight in gold

Winnie is so proud ! She says her new baby ( it's her first ! ) is such a wonderful little fellow that he's worth his weight in gold. What Winnie means is that her child is exceedingly valuable. "A little silence in the house world be worth its weight in gold to me," her husband sighed.



Worth one's salt

Long ago workers were paid wages in salt. In fact, our word salary comes from the Latin word for salt. From that, a person worth his salt is very worthy, either because he has a good character or because he is a competent and valuable worker. "You're sure worth your salt here," the boss said to Ryan.



Chips are down ( the )

A point during an important situation when you are forced to make a decision or take action.


A : I heard about a woman who survived a plane crash in the jungle and had to live for three weeks on worms and insects ! I could never do that -- I'd rather starve to death.

B : I disagree. I think that if the chips were down you'd eat anything.

A : Perhaps you're right. After all I do eat your cooking !

This expression originates from gambling. Bets are sometimes placed in the form of plastic counters called chips. when the chips are down or placed on the table the game is at a critical point because the players have committed heir money.



Eat humble pie

Be very submissive after regretting an action or words


A : Last week Charles accused his new secretary, Fiona, of stealing his wallet. It disappeared from his briefcase during lunchtime.

B : How awful ! I expect she lost her job immediately.

A : No, Charles gave her a pay rise. The next day he found his wallet at home. It hadn't been stolen after all, so he had to eat humble pie all week and offer Fiona more money before she agreed to stay !

In the Middle Ages umbles were the unpleasant but edible parts of a deer which were cooked in a pie. The best deer meat was eaten by the rich, whereas the umble pie was eaten by their servants who were of a lower social class. Over time the word umble became confused with the word humble which means meek or submissive to give the current expression. It is often used in the following forms, have to eat humble pie and make someone eat humble pie.



Blow hot and cold

Continually change one's mind about something/someone


A : I can't understand it. First my wife says she wants to go to Paris with me and then she doesn't. Why do you think she's blowing hot and cold ?

B : Well it's a lovely romantic idea to take her there but perhaps she's worried that it will cost you a lot of money -- hotels, air tickets, restaurants ... you know.

A : No, it can't be that. She'll be paying for everything !

This expression originates from one of the famous fable written by the ancient Greek author, Aesop. The story is about a man who meets a demon in a wood. The man blows on his hands to warm them and so the demon invites him home and gives him a bowl of hot soup. When the man starts blowing on his soup to cool it the demon is terrified and throws him out of the house. The reason is that he is frightened of anything which can blow hot and cold from the same mouth !

Like water off a duck's back

Be unaffected by an unpleasant experience


A : Anita, the ageing ballerina, is starring in a new production of 'San Lake'. All the newspaper critics said she was too old and should retire.

B : Oh dear, I'm sure Miss Anita was very upset when she read the reviews.

A : No, the comments were like water off a duck's back to Anita. She invited all the critics to her house and told them she was still the best dancer in the world !

It's very common to shorten the saying by omitting like. E.g. : It was water off a duck's back to Anita.



Run the gauntlet of something/someone

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