Learning American idioms is as important as learning the vocabulary, the sentence structure, and the grammar usage of American English.
Idioms are words and phrases in a language that have come into existence for a variety of reasons, some obvious enough, some inexplicable, but most of them appropriately and delightfully characteristic of the race that created them. American idioms are no exception; they reflect American culture at every social level. They are used in everyday life, in speaking and in writing, in movies and on television, and by people from all walks of life.
Through thick and thin: through good times as well as bad times
e.g. Don’t worry! I’ll stick by you through thick and thin.
Inch along: move very slowly
e.g. Business was inching along because of the economy.
You bet: yes, of course
e.g. “Are you hungry?” “You bet!”
Above and beyond: more than is required
e.g. Asking the employees to work extra hours but without paying them is above and beyond their loyalty.
Vested interest: a personal stake
e.g. He showed a vested interest in his uncle’s business.
Act one’s age: behave maturely
e.g. Stop behaving like a teenager! Act your age.
Under one’s own steam: by one’s own effort
e.g. He cannot succeed under his own steam; he needs the support of his family.
As easy as pie: very easy
e.g. Cooking a turkey is as easy as pie.
Take something on the chin: get a direct blow
e.g. The bad news was a shock to me; I took it on the chin.
Flip-flop: change sides in an issue
e.g. Politicians who flip-flop too much are unpopular with voters.
Hold one’s end up: do one’s part; reliable
e.g. I know I can count on you; you always hold your end up.
Copyright© by Stephen Lau