For the past four years or so, I have been attempting to learn another language. This endeavor came surprisingly easy to me at first. I impressed my teachers and family with my uncanny ability to conjugate and recite vocab, LIKE A BOSS. It wasn’t until learning idioms in another language that I really had difficulty. For example, in Italian (the language I’m learning) the way you say Good Luck is “In bocca al lupo”, which literally translates to In the Mouth of a Wolf…WTF? What does that even mean? Why is this wolf’s mouth so damn lucky?
Because I’m a language nerd and just sort of a goob in general, I decided to google search “weird American idioms”, to see if Italians aren’t the only offenders of weird sayings. I was blown away by a list of 161 idioms that we say over here in the grand ole U. S. of A. I have taken it upon myself to list out some of these outlandish phrases for you non-Americans out there trying to learn our very confusing language (sorry about that).
1. It’s as easy as pie
This generally means something is very easy. (Example: That test was easy as pie.)Why we compare it to just the word “pie” boggles my mind beyond belief. First off, this is a terrible fragmented saying, have you ever tried to make a pie? There are so many steps, it’s actually super complicated. Sure, the eating of the pie is easy, until you eat too much and get heartburn or spike your sugar levels so high that you act like a crazy person.
2. Fly off the handle
This another super confusing one, meaning to lose control. (Example: I need to talk to Anna about cleaning up her dishes after she uses them, before I fly off the handle). Ok, I’ll admit it the imagery behind this expression is quite amusing, but also super vague. Like, does the person literally fly off a handle? If so, how big is this handle, and is this handle referring to like a handle of vodka? If so, that sounds intriguing and technically difficult, all at the same time.
3. Wind up
This is commonly used to mean “end up”. (Example: How did I wind up taking care of you? It’s my day off.) This one is really common, especially in conversation, like the above example that a frustrated wife is probably saying to her wimp husband, right now. “Wind up” is also another one that has a certain sense of imagery, which is to literally wind up to eventually let something go, ex) a pitch.
4. I died
Ok, this one may seem obvious, but let me assure you, it’s not. This phrase is generally used by young girls, often talking boisterously about something they thought was shocking or funny to describe the extent of how shocking or funny something was. (Example: Girl #1:OMG, did you see that Mindy Project episode where Mindy filled her bra up with wine at her holiday party? Girl #2: YESSS!!! Omg, I died when Danny break-danced to Aaliyah’s song “Try Again“. Girl #1: That was totes hilar!) Sounds like a whole other language, right? Yep, Americans (myself included) have gotten in the bad habit of unnecessarily abbreviating words that don’t need to be abbreviated, like “totes” in short of totally and “hilar” instead of hilarious.
This is often used to describe something that takes little to no thought. (Example: Dumping Andy is a no-brainer! He cheated on Sally so many times!) This catchy phrase is like most idioms, is definitely not accurate. First off, even tasks like washing your hands after you use the bathroom, which seem like a no-brainer are not no-brainers for everyone. This takes you being trained as a kid that germs are icky and you need to wash them off so you don’t transfer fecal matter from your rear to your food. I wish this took no brain power, but unfortunately like most things that people deem as “no-brainers” actually take a tad bit of thought. Like, you would be so disgusted by how many grown adults don’t wash their hands, it makes me hope that they own hand sanitizer, because that’s just yucky.
Well, I hope my very un-academic definitions of American idioms help you out with learning our confusing and ever-changing language. Don’t get discouraged if you have no idea what people are saying, because half the time I have no idea what some idioms mean.
In bocca al lupo!
- Top 10 Most Common Idioms in English (umarqutb.wordpress.com)
- Why doesn’t she understand what you’re saying? (filamcouples.wordpress.com)