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Idioms, according to Wikipedia are a combination of words that have a figurative meaning owing to its common usage. An idiom's figurative meaning is separate from the literal meaning. There are thousands of idioms and they occur frequently in all languages. There are estimated to be at least twenty-five thousand idiomatic expressions in the English language. Every time I hear an idiom I always want to find out the origin of it. Some idioms are obvious and you can deduce the origin while some are way out there. I find these idioms very interesting and unique to the English language. Here are some examples of idioms, their meanings and origin:


An arm and a leg
It means: A large, possibly exorbitant, amount of money.
The Origin: Portrait painters used to charge more for larger paintings and that a head and shoulders painting was the cheapest option, followed in price by one which included arms and finally the top of the range 'legs and all' portrait.


Armed to the teeth
It means: To be heavily armed.
The Origin: This is a pirate phrase originating in Port Royal Jamaica in the 1600's. Having only single shot black powder weapons and cutlesses, they would carry many of these weapons at once to keep up the fight. In addition they carried a knife in their teeth for maximum arms capability.


Blowing smoke
It means: To be boasting without being able to back it up, talking about action without intent to follow through.
The Origin: Magicians often use smoke in their performance to obscure your view and conceal a bit of trickery. A person who is "blowing smoke" is tricking you and attempting to cover it up.


Bust your balls
It means: To harass with the intent to break one's spirit.
The Origin: There is a way to castrate a calf, instead of cutting off the Testicles you break them. To "bust your balls" is to turn them from a bull into a steer. Properly directed harassment can have a similar effect on humans.


Busting your chops
It means: To say things intended to harass.
The Origin: At the turn of the century, wearing very long sideburns—called mutton chops or lamb chops -- was en vogue. Lamb chop side burns also made a comeback in the late 1960s. A bust in the chops was to get hit in the face. Since Mutton Chops are no longer considered high fashion, the term has come to be figurative rather than literal.

What is your favorite idiom?


  1. What a great explanation of an idiom!
    I'm not sure I have a favorite, but I'll share the first one that popped into my mind:
    "A stitch in time saves nine." I don't know the origin, but the meaning is: If you take care of a problem right away, it is better than waiting until it becomes a bigger problem.
    Zaby - thanks for pointing out that I forgot to publish the questions for the Sunshine Award Nominees! I have edited the post, and you can find them there now.

  2. I didn't know some of these...I did know the chops one, adorable husband used to have chops. He wants them again, but I'm not a fan, haha.


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