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Do We Really Mean What We Say asks Work at Home Grandma

Updated on January 22, 2015

Shall We Play With Fire or Will We Get Burned

When I first began writing with Hub Pages I did a short hub discussing some of the “sayings” we use as Americans to communicate with one another. Since that time I have taken notable account of just how many ridiculous things we actually say in our conversations. I decided to do a little research and have a little fun at the same time.

Years ago I organized an international conference with business people from all over the world. The one thing that was always the topic of conversation at the dinner table was the way in which Americans speak to communicate their ideas or thoughts. For instance the gentlemen from Denmark related the story of my telling him during a phone conversation that I didn’t get back to him earlier because I was tied up. He laughed when telling me the picture that popped into his mind was me sitting in a chair securely bound with rows and rows of rope. It was then that I realized how many phrases we use on a daily basis that many people don’t even know the meaning behind them.

What Exactly Does It All Mean?

So to explain a little further I looked up the meaning of the words Vernacular, Colloquial, Idiom and Expression and learned a great deal in the process.

While vernacular usually refers to the native speech in a particular part of the world it can be colloquial as well. This is because colloquial refers to something non-standard or informal. But because colloquial can also be referred to as slang it is not necessarily vernacular. Expression refers to the way something is phrased and can include idioms but vernacular is used only specifically when referring to dialects. An idiom refers to a type of expression and often does not literally mean what it states. Now all of this is probably clear as mud (an idiom) to most of you and this writer also. In any case, what we are dealing with I believe is mostly in the idiom category. Thus we shall forge ahead.

Most Well Known

Idioms or Expressions with a Story

Love is Blind

This one is a no-brainer but for the sake of those questioning its merits I can only say that it has grown infinitely famous because it has been proven over and over again to be the sad truth. We all know that falling in love happens to most all of us at one point in our lives.

When love occurs we pull out the old rose colored glasses and put them smack dab on our eyes. They are so proficient in their job that they successfully blind us to all the bad traits oozing from the object of our affection. It is a strange phenomenon that everyone around us can see all the carnage yet we cannot acknowledge what appears to be missing from our view. Thus we can truly say that love is blind. When the romance wears off and the rose colored glasses break, we are left with the remaining pile of broken dreams. It is then when we must decide if we choose to sweep them under the carpet or get out the glue and put them back together again. Unfortunately, very few people want to do all the work of gluing all those tiny particles together and thus the relationship ends.

In a serious note, it was proven by a study done in London in 2004 that feelings of love actually suppress the area of brain that controls critical thought. You knew?

Saved by the Bell

This of course means being rescued in from an unsavory position at the last minute. I guess you could say a wrestler or boxer would understand the phrase quite well. It actually came to be many years ago when people were often declared dead and buried yet they were actually still alive. A bell was placed in the coffin attached to a string that led outside. That way if someone was actually still alive the graveyard guards would hear the bells and be able to “save the person by the bell”.

Don’t Put all Your Eggs in One Basket

This phrase basically means that if you put all your time and energy into one method of success and you fail, you will have lost everything; whereas if you diversify you will have something to fall back on. I guess that’s a little bit like a writer counting on one stream of income to support him (like hub pages) and it suddenly runs dry. He will then wish he had built additional means of income.

On the other end of the spectrum Andrew Carnegie, one of the richest men in America, always believed in concentrating all your attention to one enterprise and make that grow. Obviously, putting all your eggs in one basket and growing the basket works also.

More Than You Can Shake a Stick at

This one is pretty clear but it means that you have more of something than you could possibly need.

The stick came into play by farmers who would shake a staff or stick at their sheep to keep them in order. When they had too many sheep to control it was more than “they could shake a stick at”.

Eating Humble Pie

This of course means to apologize and suffer humiliation.

It originated during the Middle Ages when the lord of the manor held a feast for his guests. Those of high standing were given the best meat but those of lower standing were given pies made of entrails and innards known as “umbles”. The guests served this fair were humiliated because such a serving announced their lowly status; thus the term humble pie.

Blood is Thicker than Water

This term actually means that family comes first.

The term blood brothers was used by Middle Eastern cultures when warriors cut themselves to intermingle their blood with that of another to show they were as strong as family or “blood brothers”.

Fun Idioms that come naturally

You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink

You can give someone all of the information they need to succeed in an endeavor but you can’t force them to follow your advice.

You made your bed now lay in it

You made some bad choices without listening to good advice and now you must live with the consequences of those choices

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch

Don’t make decisions based on a possible outcome that may not actually turn out to be true.

A risky endeavor is worth the hassle if it is successful.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Many of you may have found yourself in this tenuous predicament at times. This basically means you have to make a decision between two unsatisfactory options.

As writers I think we sometimes find ourselves in this very position. But we don't have to live our lives choosing between bad or worse. From what I've read and witnessed in this community, the writers strive to be the very best they can. For that you all can take pride.

Hope you've enjoyed having a little fun. I know I did. As writers we have to look at each day as new beginning to reach the goals we have set for ourselves. A risky endeavor is worth everything if we succeed. Wishing you all the best in 2015 and beyond.

Always remember that "All's Well That Ends Well"


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    • Sandra Eastman profile imageAUTHOR

      Sandra Joy Eastman 

      3 years ago from Robbinsdale MN


      Thanks for stopping by. I had a lot of fun writing this. I thought sonething fun was in order. Glad you enjoyed it. Blessings to you.

    • Sandra Eastman profile imageAUTHOR

      Sandra Joy Eastman 

      3 years ago from Robbinsdale MN


      Glad you enjoyed the piece as it was meant to make you smile. Thank you for checking it out.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      In all seriousness, I don't know how a foreigner ever learns English. It has to be the most confusing language on Earth, as you pointed out with some great and funny examples. A fun read, Sandra. Thank you!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 

      3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      This hub was a fun read. We say things every day and have no idea where their meaning came from. Don't know how anyone ever learns English as a second language with all the landmines buried in it.

    • Sandra Eastman profile imageAUTHOR

      Sandra Joy Eastman 

      3 years ago from Robbinsdale MN

      Thanks Eric glad you enjoyed. It was fun to write it.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Wonderful stuff to know and very well written -- I hope you have more to share with us later.


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