Tag Archives: english idioms

Idioms: Baker’s Dozen


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Baker’s Dozen: 13

The chef made a baker’s dozen of bagels, knowing his assistant may eat one before they could be delivered. 

Baker’s Dozen is a measurement of food and baked goods for the most part, hence its name. The earliest known source for the phrase dates back to the 13th century, when bakers were severely punished for shorting their customers. If they left out a piece of bread from their dozen (12), for example, their hand would be cut off with an axe! In order to avoid this, bakers began baking 13 pieces of bread or other goods.


Idioms: Keep a Straight Face


Keep a Straight Face: Keep a serious expression and demeanor when you have the urge to laugh.

Charlie struggled to keep a straight face when Marie said she had seen a real UFO. 

This saying usually refers to concealing the urge to laugh, but it also extends to concealing any emotion. It implies that laughing or being overly emotional would be inappropriate in the current situation. It can also be used if someone doesn’t want to tell a secret or expel personal information in a particular situation.

Idioms: Word-of-Mouth


word-of-mouth: Spoken conversation from one person to another.

The hair salon’s business doubled from positive word-of-mouth from its customers. 

This phrase may appear to have an unusual structure, but its meaning is quite literal: It refers to the words coming out of your mouth! “Word-of-mouth” is often used in an advertising or marketing context, in which it describes the powerful way people can spread positive or negative feelings about a brand or product through personal conversations with family or friends. It can also be used in a personal setting to generally describe spoken conversation.

What is a Phrasal Verb?

Sourced from a great website for English idioms, The Idiom Connection:

A phrasal verb is a two-part or three-part verb and is sometimes called a compound verb. It is a combination of a verb and an adverb, a verb and a preposition, and a verb with an adverb and a preposition. It can have a literal meaning that is easy to understand because the meaning is clear from the words that are used. It can also have an idiomatic meaning which cannot easily be understood by looking at the words themselves.

Verb and Adverb (run + around)

to run around (something) – to run in a circle around something (literal meaning)
The dog ran around the tree.
to run around (somewhere) – to go to various places to do something (idiomatic meaning)
I spent the day running around downtown.

Verb and Preposition (run + into)

to run into (someone or something) – to hit or crash into someone or something (literal meaning)
The car ran into the truck on the busy street.
to run into (someone) – to meet someone by chance (idiomatic meaning)
I ran into my friend in a restaurant yesterday.

Verb and Adverb and Preposition (run + around + with)

to run around with (someone) – to be friends and do things with someone or with a group of people (idiomatic meaning)
The boy is running around with a bad group of people.

Some idiomatic expressions are made with a phrasal verb plus some other words. These words are used in a fixed order to give an idiomatic meaning.
to run (verb) around (adverb) like a chicken with its head cut off – to run around with no purpose
I ran around like a chicken with its head cut off as I prepared for my holidays.