Thursday, September 1, 2011

Example Idioms - Blow your own horn, Bolt from the Blue & Break the Ice

Blow your own horn

Try to be modest in spite of your achievements. Don’t blow your own horn.

Meaning: to praise yourself; to call attention to your own merits (intelligence, skills, success or abilities); to brag about yourself.
Origin: In ancient Roman times, a blare of trumpets announced the arrival of a great hero. So the blowing of horns meant someone important was coming. Today, people who blow (or toot) their own horns are boasting about their superior qualities. Sometimes you have to do that a little (when you apply for a job, for instance), but if you do it too much, you could be called a braggart.

Bolt from the Blue

Tendulkar’s tennis elbow injury on the eve of the match came as a bolt from the blue.

Meaning: something sudden, unexpected, and shocking.
Origin: This expression has been used since at least the early 1800s.Picture a calm, clear, blue sky. You’d probably be surprised, even startled, if a bolt of lightning suddenly cracked down. In the same way, any big surprise is like lightning shooting out of a clear, blue sky.You just don’t expect it to happen. (Note: this expression usually refers to very bad news.) A related idiom is “out of the clear, blue sky”.

Born with a Silver Spoon in your Mouth

Frank always buys the finest, most expensive things. He could afford for he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

Meaning: born to wealth, comfort, and privilege.
Origin:A spoon made out of pure silver is expensive. Sometimes a silver spoon is given as a gift to a newborn baby. If a rich baby has many expensive things from the start of life, like a silver spoon (almost as if he or she were born with the spoon in his or her mouth), we can use this well-known idiom to describe that person. The phrase was used by Cervantes, the Spanish writer, in the early 1600s in the book Don Quixote.

Bottom Line

“If we don’t win this match, we’re out of the finals. That’s the bottom line.
Meaning: the most crucial fact; the net result.
Origin: For hundreds of years accountants have added up the profits and losses of companies. The sum appears at the bottom line of a column of numbers. While “bottom line” still means a bookkeeping figure showing profit or loss; it has taken on a more general meaning since the mid-1900s and now refers to any crucial decision or final result, financial or not.

Break the Ice

“Pozhil was very shy when she met Pavithra. She didn’t know how to break the ice.
Meaning: to overcome the first awkward difficulties in a social situation by a friendly gesture; to ease the nervousness in a situation.
Origin: As early as the late 1500s and early 1600s, writers likeShakespeare were using this expression. It originally came from navigation through waterways frozen over with ice. Special boats had to break through the ice, clearing the way before any ships could sail. The meaning was transferred to getting a conversation started or making an acquaintance. “Ice” in this idiom represents a cold or awkward feeling among people, especially strangers.

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