10 Idioms for Danger: Or Expressions which are followed by, "Oh Shit!".

English Expressions for Danger

Danger idioms
Danger idioms | Source

Words and idioms for danger

Here in Brazil I teach English, sometimes this is to a class and other times on a one to one basis. I try and think the way the students would to find words and phrases in English which they might need to know but would find confusing. This is where the idea of this post came from.

There are many phrases or idioms in English which, if dissected down to their words, don't make a lot of sense especially if you are new to the language. Some of these phrases are often heard on television or in films. Where would action films be if their main character wasn't in mortal danger?

Because you never know when you might hear them, it is best to learn them now so you can be b

prepared. Because I always believe learning should be fun, I've thrown a bit of humor in as well.

Scholastic Dictionary of Idioms
Scholastic Dictionary of Idioms

Because English can be confusing this book makes learning fun. Explaining why we use them and where they came from. It is also a great converstaion starter and can loosen up a class with some of the crazy idioms we use.

 

Fire in the hole

This does not mean that someone has dug a hole and built a fire in it. Nor does it mean that the curry you ate last night is causing you intestinal grief.

If you are a fan of war films you may have heard this on television or at the cinema. Often these films will be peppered with this expression when someone tosses a hand grenade into a room and shouts this warning to his comrades.

The expression orginated not in a war zone but in mines, hence the word 'hole' , when explosives were set to detonate in a confined space. People were meant to shelter behind something substancial and usually protect their ears from loud blast.

Duck !

Yes of course you, as an English speaker knows this means to make yourself lower to the ground otherwise you could get hit. To a non-English speaker, they may do the opposite and look to the sky searching for a flock of ducks.

If something such as a ball or other object has been thrown at you or is coming in your direction you may hear someone shout, "Duck!"

Watch Out

This does not mean to take your Timex, Rolex, or Apple watch out. It means to be alert to the current situation. If this is shouted in your direction, it implies something unexpected is about to occur.

This can also be used as general advice:

You'd better watch out that you don't get your heart broken by that Greek waiter.


Heads Up

This has recently taken on a different meaning in regards to advance notice of something in a general sense.

For example:

'Heads up Bob, the boss is in a bad mood.'

It also means to watch out as explained above.

Although this usually is less life threatening. Let's say you could get hit on the head with a beach ball as opposed to an angry man running towards you with an baseball bat clutched in his hands.

Put your hands up/ keep your hands where I can see them

Both of these are warnings usually issued by a police officer. Failure to do so, could get you wounded or worse. This is so the officer can see that you are not reaching for a hidden weapon. The hands should be up or away from your body. Do not try and cover your mouth to cough or scratch that itch, just keep your hands elevated.

Booby Trap

Although there is a bird called a booby this is not referring to a trap to capture it.

Also in the US the term 'booby' can refer to a woman's breast, here too this is not what a booby trap is referring to.

A booby trap is a device which has been designed to injure or kill without a person knowing. A good example was the movie Speed starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock in which a bus was booby trapped with a bomb which was set to explode if the bus went below 50mph. Dennis Hopper who played the bomber also booby trapped an elevator and his own house in the film.


Hit the deck

This is not in reference to playing with a deck of cards.

This phrase means you should lie on the floor and possibly put your hands around your head to protect it from whatever is about to occur. The deck is in reference to a ship's deck when there were often low flying enemy planes attacking. By lowering yourself you make less of a target.

Quicksand

Although one can normally expect to easily walk across sand, this video shows just how deceptive it can be. It also includes how to get out of it. You are in fact more likely to die from exposure to the sun, wild animals or a rising tide whilst stuck in their. The key point is don't panic!

It may be unlikely you will be walking in an area with quicksand but it is wise to be prepared.


Take cover

This is not referring to a blanket, or insurance coverage .

This means something dangerous such as gunfire or an explosion is about to happen and you should get out of the way. Here again either on the floor or behind a wall which would shield you from danger. If someone is instructing you to take cover it is probably too late to flee the scene.

Hang On

This could be if you are in a moving vehicle and turning quickly. To avoid injuring yourself someone may shout, “Hang On” telling you to grab something to secure yourself.

In a car as a passenger you may opt to grab the 'Jesus Bar' which is a term used for the handle above the door. We believe the term comes from the cries of 'Oh Jesus' which are undoubtly shouted as the car heaves heavily to one side as it takes a corner at speed.

Rally driving
Rally driving | Source

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Which others can you think of? 16 comments

annart profile image

annart 15 months ago from SW England

We do have some weird idioms don't we? I used to have fun with many of them, with my foreign students in London and then later with my dyslexic students over the last decade or so.

Love the rally car photo; I used to do that when I was much younger!

Great hub.

Ann


billybuc profile image

billybuc 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

Too funny! I was laughing at the title and just kept on laughing...."oh shit" is right.


Blond Logic profile image

Blond Logic 15 months ago from Brazil Author

Hi Ann,

I have found that the sayings are similar in Portuguese but equally as quirky. There is one which translates as 'cow hand' but means someone who is a skinflint. lol

I think it is these which makes learning so fun.

I would love to drive a rally car Everyone thinks of me as being an overly cautious driver but I would love to have a go at that.

Thanks for your visit.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 15 months ago from Oakley, CA

Hahaha! We native speakers do take these idioms for granted and don't give them a second thought.

The car's grab bar, I've not heard called by that name, but rather as the "Oh, shit handle."

When my mother was still working, one of the ladies in her department, an ESL speaker, was very confused by the expression of someone being called a "knucklehead." She understood both words in their separate use, and the combination made no sense to her.

Voted up, interesting and funny.


Blond Logic profile image

Blond Logic 15 months ago from Brazil Author

Hi Bill,

I'm glad I tickled your funny bone on this lovely Monday.

Thanks for reading.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 15 months ago from The Caribbean

Your explanations make me smile, especially the what-it's-not part. Fun lesson on idioms and usage.


Blond Logic profile image

Blond Logic 15 months ago from Brazil Author

Hi Ms Dora,

The more I teach English the more I learn about it. Some things are just down right confusing for learners of a new language.

I think learning has to be fun to be remembered.

Glad you enjoyed it.


integrater profile image

integrater 15 months ago

Funny hub . Made me smile.

The first time I heard "fire in the hole" was about 5-6 years back when I watched the Terminator 2 for the first time and thought it must have war field origins. I had no idea it had roots in the mines .

Thank you for another wonderful hub.


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 15 months ago from Stillwater, OK

I have taught a few foreign folk some of these idioms. They had otherwise very good English, just not in this arena. These are some that I didn't think about. Thanks!


Blond Logic profile image

Blond Logic 15 months ago from Brazil Author

Hi Avian novice,

I think we don't appreciate just how difficult it can be until we try and explain it to another person.

thanks for reading.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 15 months ago from Southern Oklahoma

We don't realize just how confusing some of our idioms can be to someone who does not speak the language. This was very entertaining! :)


Blond Logic profile image

Blond Logic 15 months ago from Brazil Author

Oh, I'm glad you liked it. As native speakers we feel confident in their usage but for others it can be a stumbling block.

Wonderful to hear from you.


royblizzard profile image

royblizzard 15 months ago from Austin / Leander, Texas

I enjoyed your article. When I was in ESL at UT Austin I would pull aside the foreigners and get them familiar with odd English idiomatic and regional dialectic expressions. They seemed to enjoy learning these oddities.


Blond Logic profile image

Blond Logic 15 months ago from Brazil Author

Hi Roy,

I think it is what keeps learning interesting. All languages have their own crazy sayings, and their roots aren't always clear. It is only when we try and explain these to a foreigner that we realize just how confusing and funny they can be.


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 8 months ago

Great article. I like your explanations of our idioms, and we do have quite a few. Perhaps most of them come from the fact that the U.S.A. is such a diverse country. I've never been in an ESL situation, but my husband took engineering at the University of Tokyo. His instructor asked him to explain how he worked a problem and he said by the PEMDAS method. When he tried to explain "Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally," he had a difficult time explaining to the students what an "aunt" was and why anyone would call her an animal (deer).


Blond Logic profile image

Blond Logic 8 months ago from Brazil Author

I have found that the more I try and understand and explain the English language, the more confusing it gets. This of course goes for all languages, as they all have their own sayings. Here in Brazil they refer to someone who is tight with money as the 'foot of a cow'.

Language learning is always good for a laugh.

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