The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms

The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms

Christine Ammer

Language: English

Pages: 480

ISBN: 0618249532

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The cat will never get your tongue once you have The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms. This book defines nearly 10,000 idioms — expressions consisting of two or more words whose combined meaning is different from the literal meaning of the individual words. Each entry has both a definition and a sentence showing the idiom used in context. Most entries offer an explanation of the idiom’s origin and indicate when the expression first appeared in English.

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The noun cases apparently alludes to the game of faro, in which the “case card” is the last of a rank of cards remaining in play; this usage dates from about 1900. Also see TO THE POINT. get even Get revenge. If someone has bested you in some way, retaliate, so that you are even. [Mid-1800s] A somewhat newer imperative is don’t get mad, get even, as in Dad told him “don’t get mad, get even”—try harder to outdo your opponent’s scores. get going 1. See GET A MOVE ON. 2. get something going. Start

committed, as in I don’t know if I’ll move there; I’m still on the fence, or He’s straddling the fence about the merger. This picturesque expression, with its implication that one can jump to ­either side, at first was applied mainly to political commitments. [Early 1800s] on the fly In a hurry, on the run, as in I picked up some groceries on the fly. The transfer of this expression, which literally means “in midair or in flight,” dates from the mid-1800s. on the fritz → See under ON THE BLINK.

“cut” or “slash.” rip off 1. Steal, as in They fired him when they caught him ripping off some of the merchandise. 2. Cheat, defraud, as in These advertising claims have ripped off a great many consumers. 3. Copy, plagiarize, as in He was sued for ripping off someone else’s thesis. All three usages are slang from the second half of the 1900s. rise → In addition to the idioms beginning with RISE, also see COME UP (RISE IN THE WORLD); GET A RISE OUT OF; GIVE BIRTH (RISE) TO. rise and shine An

propensity for holding an injured thumb stiffly, making it stand out (and thereby risking further injury). 2. Continue doing something, endure something, as in I know you don’t like it but you have to stick out the job for another month. [Late 1600s] A variant is stick it out, as in His new play’s boring, but since he’s my cousin we’d better stick it out. [Late 1800s] Also see STICK IT, def. 1. stick to 1. Remain loyal; see STICK BY. 2. Persist in or continue applying oneself to, as in I’m

assist or encourage something or someone. The term, which pairs two verbs of nearly the same meaning, comes from criminal law, where it means helping in the commission of a crime. Still so used, it also is transferred to non-criminal situations, as in Feeding marmots aids and abets an explosion in their population. [Late 1700s] aim → In addition to the idiom beginning with AIM, also see TAKE AIM. aim to Try or intend to do something, as in We aim to please, or She aims to fly to California.

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