The English language is a complex thing, riddled with incongruity. Words can be spelt the same and yet when used in different contexts have completely different meanings. For example the word lurch can mean to make an abrupt, uncontrolled movement, especially an unsteady tilt or roll, or it can be when you leave a friend or associate without support or assistance when they are in a difficult situation, ie: “he left you in the lurch when you needed him most.”
This phrase, like many of our English words, is derived from French origins and refers to the game Lourche. This is similar to backgammon and was last played in the 17th century, the rules now long lost. Players suffered a lurch if they were left in a hopeless position from which they couldn’t win the game. The card game of cribbage also has a “lurch” position which players may be left in if they don’t progress halfway round the peg board before the winner finishes.
English idioms, proverbs and expressions are an important part of everyday language and learning the meanings and origins can be fun. Here are some of my favourites with translations for those of you who are not familiar with them;
“Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.”- don’t discard something valuable along with something undesirable.
“A penny for your thoughts..” -ask what someone is thinking
“At the drop of a hat”- without any hesitation, instantly.
” The ball is in your court.”- it is up to you to make the next decision or step.
” best of both worlds” – have all the advantages.
“Best thing since sliced bread”- a good invention or innovation, good idea or plan.
” cost an arm and a leg” – used when something is very expensive
” curiosity killed the cat”- being inquisitive can lead you into trouble.
” Elvis has left the building”- the show is finished.
” heard it on the grapevine” – hear rumours about something or someone.
” feel a bit under the weather”- feeling a bit sick
” Hit the sack”- go to bed.
” let the cat out of the bag” – share information that was meant to be secret.
” All good things must come to an end” … everything fabulous must eventually end- this is the end of my post!
” English is a funny language. A fat chance and a slim chance are the same thing.”