Strike while the iron is still hot

“En caliente

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  • Meaning

Not to hesitate in doing something, especially once you have made your decision to do it. Not to waste time to take action when trying to achieve a goal, especially once you have recognized all conditions favor you.

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  • Origin

In the 1300´s Geoffrey Chaucer used this expression after seeing that blacksmiths used to hammer red hot pieces of metal so as to shape them. Then, he extrapolated the literal use of this idiom to those situations in which a decision was to be made in the heat of the moment so that a person could take advantage of any given situation once it appeared.

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  • Example

-They are offering me a scholarship to study in England.

-Wow! When are you leaving?

-I don´t know if I should take it. I first want to take English classes in order to improve my level before attempting such a feat.

-What? Are you crazy? But you speak English proficiently.

-I don´t think so. I guess I can still learn more.

-You know what? if you don´t take advantage of this great opportunity now that it is there, you will regret it the rest of your life.

-Really, do you think so?

-Of course, it is now or never. You might never in your life have a chance like this again. Strike while the iron is still hot!

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Split hairs

“Agarrarse del chongo

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  • Meaning

To quarrel about trivial unimportant things. To waste time arguing about irrelevant matters.

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  • Origin

It is said that William Shakespeare used a similar expression in one of his writings in the 1600´s. In those times, it was thought that splitting hairs would be utterly impossible since a hair is such a fine thing that no instrument available at that time could be used to perform such a fine detailed action.

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  • Example

-Oh, hun. This is such a special day.

-Really? What do you mean?

-What? Don´t you remember?

-Oh, yes. It was the day when we met one year ago. How could I forget?

-Do you still remeber what time it was?

-I remember that it was in the afternoon.

-Yeah, but what time?

-I..Well…Uhmmm…

-You see? You don´t care about important mattters in our relationship!

-Here we go, splitting hairs once again!

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A stick-in-the-mud

“Chapado a la antigua / anticuado / estar cerrado

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  • Meaning

A person who avoids adventurous activities, who sticks to their old beliefs, passtimes and routinary traditional lifestyle.

stick in the mud1

  • Origin

This idiom was coined in the 1700´s to refer to those people who feel comfortable with their traditional old beliefs and creedence and would hardly ever accept new ideas, take risks or change even a single thing from their traditional old-fashioned way of life. If we took a cane of any other similar thing and stuck it into the mud, when the latter is still wet, it would easily be removed. But what if the mud dried? It would be really difficult to remove the stick. The same happens to those who stick to their own old-fashioned ideas. It would absolutely be hard. It would take a  tremendous effort to convince them to stay apart from their own ideas and lifestyles.

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  • Example

-What happened to you? You look as if you had seen the death!

-Not exactly but almost there. The thing is that my parents are going on vacation to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary.

-And? What´s the problem with that?

-The problem is that they have asked my grandmother to stay with us to supposedly take care of us. It will be horrible.

-Why? She is a lovely person.

-You don´t know her. She wants us not to watch TV or play videogames. She asks us to go to bed at 8pm and to top it off, she wants us to go to church with her every single afternoon. She is so horrible.

-Have you ever tried to talk to her and convince her to change her manners?

-Hundreds! Thousands of times! But she would never listen to us. She is just a stick-in-the-mud!

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Stick to your guns

“Aguantar vara / mantenerse firme / amachinarse

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  • Meaning

To stay firm and stick to your ideas and beliefs when confronted to opposition no matter how strong this could be.

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  • Origin

In the 1700´s, soldiers who were encharged of the guns or cannon posts were given the command to stay in their positions no matter how difficult or how hard the situation could be. A coward would run in the face of danger but a brave soldier would firmly stick to their guns even when being seiged by the enemy. Nowadays, remembering these heroic soldiers who would never run away and abandon their duties, anytime that we confront opposition to our believes, we have to scare our fears away and just stick to our guns.

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  • Example

-I am very nervous. Today, I have a meeting with our CEO to present our proposal for the new marketing campaign.

-What´s the problem? I know of the quality of your work and I am pretty sure you will propose something good for the company.

-Yes, but the proposal implies changing the logo of the company in order to give a more modern image to the world and…You know how the CEO is, so traditional, so…fair and square…

-Yes, I know what you mean, he always sticks to his guns! But you have to do the same, fight the fire with fire, stick to your own guns. Show your ideas with enthusiasm. Keep your chin up and I am pretty sure you will convince him.

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Strike a happy medium

“Encontrar el punto medio / ni tú, ni yo

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  • Meaning

To get to an optimum solution that satisfies both parties involved in a problem. A person “A” wants something, but “B” wants something different; the happy médium satisfies both “A” and “B”.

http://dictionary.cambridge.org/es/diccionario/britanico/happy-medium

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  • Origin

In his theory about virtue, Aristotle recommends that when any given person finds themselves between two extreme situations, which he called vices, they should live according to the so-called principle of the happy medium. This happy médium is what made a person virtuous. If we consider, then, that striking is hitting upon something, we could think of this idiom as if we were about to throw a dart or an arrow and we have to hit right in the middle of the target.

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  • Example

I wanted to watch the Worldcup final game, whereas my wife wished to go to visit her mother. After quarreling for a while, we stroke a happy médium; we all went to a restaurant to have lunch and I and the kids could watch the game on their big screen they have. It was awesome and everybody had a wonderful time!

 Aristóteles identifica la “virtud” (areté) con el “hábito” (héksis) de actuar según el “justo término medio” entre dos actitudes extremas, a las cuales denomina “vicios”. De este modo, decimos que el hombre es virtuoso cuando su voluntad ha adquirido el “hábito” de actuar “rectamente”, de acuerdo con un “justo término medio” que evite tanto el exceso como el defecto.

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Six of one and half a dozen of the other

“Es lo mismo , que lo mesmo / es junto con pegado

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  • Meaning

The two things that we are talking about are exactly the same, the only difference is the words we use to refer to them but these words are just paraphrases of an equal situation. A similar expression is much of a muchness.

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  • Origin

Sometimes we have a quarrel because we are talking about two, in appearance, different things but if we analyze them closely, we will see that in reality we are talking about the same thing but presented in a different way, with different words, in a different perspective but in the end, they are exactly the same thing. If we say, “six of one,” it equals six. If we say, “five plus one,” it is six. If we say, “half of the other,” it is six.

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  • Example

I have always thought that my boss exploits us. We always Works long hours for the same pay, and that is an abuse. Of course, my boss doesn´t have the same opinión, he says that he has reckoned the great impact that our work might have on society, that we are indisputably the best workers in the labor market, that the world has to know about our great feats, etc, etc, etc. He says that it is not exploitation, it is contributing to the betterment of the world, but to me it is six of one and half a dozen of the other.

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Put your money where your mouth is

“Predicar con el ejemplo

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  • Meaning

When you put your money where your mouth is, you do what you have said you were going to. So, you are a person who is trust-worthy and whatever comes together with your words; your money, your reputation, etc. will be safe.

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  • Origin

This expression has two possible origins: one from Ireland, where people use to mention this to those who are boasting about achieving fantastic feats so as to mean, “I want to see what you say becomes a reality.” The second possible origin is from poker. In this game, gamblers use to boast or show off about the hand they are having so as to confuse the opponents. So, if you have a good hand and you want to scare or warn your opponent to be careful with what they say, you tell them to put their money where their mouths are. A similar expression is “Put up or shut up!”

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  • Example

-OMG, I have put my foot in my mouth!

-What do you mean?

-Do you remember I told the principal that I could speak Japanese?

-Yes, but I know you, and I know you were just kidding.

-But the principal took it seriously and next week a board of Japanese educators is coming to visit the school, and the principal asked me to help with the translations.

-You see? You and your big mouth always get you into trouble! For that matter, I have always told you to put your money where your mouth is.

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Straight from the Shoulder

“Sin Rodeos / desembucha, chucha

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  • Meaning

To say something honestly without any hesitation. To express what you think without beating around the bush.

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  • Origin

This idiom comes from boxing as some other expressions like; Hit below the belt, roll with the punches, pull no punches, on the ropes, etc. When a bóxer hits another, the most powerful punch is that one that come straight from the shoulder. Additionally, any other hit takes longer to arrive to the face to the oponen, but there is nothing that moves faster tan a straight punch. In the 1800’s, this idiom took its current meaning which is: Speaking sincerely without going in circles.

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  • Example

-What is my condition, doctor?

-Well, we have to practice you some analysis and then in some days,…

-Come on, doctor. Don´t beat around the bush. Tell me straight from the shoulder; am I going to die?

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The Last Straw that Broke the Camel´s Back

“La gota que derramó el vaso

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  • Meaning

This idiom, which is usually shortened for “this was the last Straw…”, means that someone, who is usually a resistant person, has reached the limit of their endurance and collapses or breaks into a mad streak.

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  • Origin

Being the original 1677 expression, “the last feather that broke the horse´s back”, this expression was originally intended to mean that cargo animals which are well known for having a high limit of endurance, would get their backs broken if even a tiny light thing as an extra feather  was added. It was Charles Dickens who, in the 1800´s changed this expression into “The Straw that broke the camel´s back”. If any person who is well known for having a really high endurance, is burden with more and more trouble or stress, that person would finally collapse.

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  • Example

After being bullied for some months, Johnny decided to take Tae Kwon Do classes where he was taught that violence was never a resource to resort to. One day, while being bullied, he mentally repeated his mantra “The wise man never resorts to violence.” But after a while, he just shouted, “Enough is enough, This is the last straw that broke the camel´s back,” and started kicking everybody until they beeged for piety!

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Sink or Swim

“Hacerla o morir en el intento

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  • Meaning

To fail or succeed in one enterprise by your own effort without the help of anybody else, all by ourselves.

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  • Origin

Geoffrey Chaucer, one of the most famous English poets, used the expression “float or swim” in his writings. In medieval times, women who were suspected to be witches were thrown into deep waters. If they drowned and died, they were considered innocent but if they floated, people thought they were being helped by the devil and they were burned guilty of withcraft. In modern times, we say that when we take a new venture, we have to options: Whether we can succeed or fail. If we succeed, it is like swimming. If we fail, it is like sinking.

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  • Example

I have to take my graduation test next week. I have studied quite a lot. I think I am ready to take the exam but it is going to be so difficult that nothing guarantees I still can make it. It is a matter of sink or swim.

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