Trivia Teaser

"Sherlock Holmes" author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was an early pioneer of which sport?

Bungy jumping

Body Parts


By Christine Lovatt

If English is not your mother tongue or if you’ve ever learnt another language, you will know how difficult it is to grasp the idiosyncrasies of idiom.

Many idioms involve parts of the body. I would give my right arm to know who first said they didn’t have a leg to stand on, or that they had a finger in every pie.

Some idioms express the physically impossible such as having eyes bigger than your stomach, being armed to the teeth, having eyes in the back of your head or having your heart in your mouth.

Others seem painful such as having your back against the wall, banging your heads together, biting your lip or making your blood boil (or freeze).

We may understand what it means to keep an eye on someone, be on our last legs or win hands down, but think of the poor language student trying to come to terms with these idioms.

If something costs an arm and a leg do we come out of the shop a few limbs short? How do you twist someone around your little finger?

Native speakers seldom give a thought to the literal meanings of these everyday phrases. But how confusing must it be to be told in a foreign tongue to stick your neck out or keep your eyes peeled?

Next time you have a conversation with a non-English speaker remember to hold your tongue, wear your heart on your sleeve and don’t speak your mind.

Keep an eye out for funny looks when they don’t understand why you want to pick their brains or pull their leg or suggest they scratch your back and you’ll scratch theirs. And whatever you do don’t give them a piece of your mind or jump down their throat!

Happy puzzling!




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Body Parts

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