10 Funny English Idioms You May Not Know
Tagged: funny english idioms
- July 26, 2015 at 9:17 pm #261
An idiom is an everyday figure of speech or metaphorical expression whose meaning cannot be taken literary. Idioms often go against the logical “rules of language and grammar” despite being commonly used by the language’s native speakers. If you look closely at the literal meaning of most idioms, you will realize they are often downright hilarious. Here is a list of some of the funniest English idioms you may not know, most of which are drawn from British English. Learn to speak like a regular Brit, mate!
1. Do a Devon Loch
Devon Loch was a racehorse that collapsed just short of the winning line of the 1956 Grand National race in the UK. If someone does a Devon Loch, they suddenly fail when everybody expects them to succeed or simply crumble at the very last minute when they were almost winning.
Example: It was shocking how Manchester United did a Devon Loch in the last minutes of the match against Arsenal.
2. Bob’s your uncle
This idiom is a catch phrase used when ‘everything is alright’ and means that something will be done, sorted or successful. It’s the British equivalent of “…and that’s that,” or “there you go!” How it is used is often quite funny.
Example: You want to go to the market? Go straight on until you reach the main road, take the first right, and Bob’s your uncle–you’re there!
3. Do a runner
When someone does a runner, he leaves a place in a hurry in order to avoid paying for something (like in a restaurant) or flees a difficult situation to escape punishment. Like many British idioms, this particular idiom originates from one of Shakespeare’s popular plays, Anthony and Cleopatra, a gripping story of romance and tragedy that was first performed in 1606.
Example: At this point, the con artist did a runner with all her money.
4. Enough to cobble dogs with
This incredulous phrase is used to refer to a surplus of anything. The humor in the image contained in the phrase becomes apparent when you consider that a cobbler repairs shoes. If a cobbler has enough leather to cobble an animal that has four feet, then that cobbler definitely has a surplus.
Example: We’ve got enough beer in this party to cobble dogs with.
5. Fall off the back of a lorry
This is the British humorous way of saying you acquired something that was probably stolen, or you are trying to sell something that’s stolen or illegitimate. The American equivalent of the phrase is: “off the back of a truck.”
Example: I don’t know where you get this stuff. I suspect off the back of a lorry.
6. Hairy at the heel
This disparaging phrase was originally used by the British upper-crust to refer to someone who is ill-bred, dangerous or untrustworthy. The image of a hairy heel is indeed striking and funny.
Example: I can’t say I like Bob. I’ve once or twice had a row with him. He’s a bit hairy at the heels.
7. Cat’s arse
The humble cat’s arse–originally known as “felinus bottomus” to the ancient Greeks–is sometimes used to describe the facial expression adopted by a scorned woman. This rather vulgar phrase is apparently used because the (*) shape created by the woman’s lips resemble a cat’s backside.
Example: Bob won’t come to the pub with us–he’s afraid his wife will give him the ‘Cats Arse’ if he does.
8. For donkey’s years
This British expression jokingly alludes to the considerable length of years the animal works with nothing to show for it. If you have done something for donkey’s years, then you have done it for an awfully long time without any change or much to show for it.
Example: I’ve been a plumber for donkey’s years. It’s time for a change.
9. All talk and no trousers
Someone who is all talk and no trouser talks and thumps his chest a lot about doing big, important things, but doesn’t actually take any action. The thought of someone running his mouth with no trousers is funny.
Example: Be careful. Politicians are known to be all mouth and no trousers.
10. If you’ll pardon my French
“Pardon my French,” or “excuse my French” is an informal apology for the use of profane, swear or taboo words. The expression dates back to the 19th century when it was fashionable for Englishmen to use French words–a foreign language then–in conversation, knowing the listener may not understand.
Example: What she needs is a kick in the ass, if you‘ll excuse my French.
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