Archive | octubre 2012

To Have an Axe to Grind

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Google images, “To have an axe to grind”

  • Meaning:

This expression is used to say that someone is using flattery or tricks in order to take advantage of someone else. So, this trickery person has a secret selfish purpose that he/she will get by means of adulation.

  • Origin:

In the 1800’s, a story was published. In it, there was a boy who was an excellent ax grinder. Then, someone arrived with an ax for him to grind. The ax was heavy and grinding it represented a hard work to do. The man convinced the boy by telling him that he was the best, smartest, strongest ax grinder ever. In the end, the man didn’t pay or even thank the boy for his work. We use the negative form of this expression to mean that we are honest, unselfish people.

  • Example:
“I know that you are very busy but I need some counseling. I think you are an expert and nobody could help me better than you can. Hey, but don’t look at me like that. I don’t have an ax to grind”.

Google images, “To have an axe to grind”

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At The End Of Your Rope!

Estar a Punto de Caer al Abismo

 

Google images, “At the end of your rope”

 

  • Meaning:

 

This means to be at the limit of your endurance. Not to be able to resist or tolerate a situation any longer.

 

 

  • Origin:

 

If you were a climber using a rope at a mountain, in order to get to the top, and you were at the very benning of it, you could probably go up or down as you wish. But if you were at the very end of it, you would not afford yourself to go down any more or you would fall down to a sure death.

 

 

  • Example:

 

Claudia has done everything possible to save her relationship with Michael, in spite of his terrible habit of drinking alcohol in excess. She has tried to help him in many different ways but nothing has worked out. Now, they will start a new rehabilitation therapy but if it does not work out well, she will leave him for good. She says that she is at the end of her rope.

 

Google images, “At the end of your rope”

 

At The Drop Of A Hat

De Volón Pin-Pon 

Google Images, “At the drop of a hat”

 

  • Meaning:

To begin something at an indicated moment (the dropping of a hat), to star something without any delay.

 

  • Origin:

Since long time ago, there have been many ways to indicate that a certain event had to start, especially competitions. They were started by different means, for example a whistle, the shooting of a gun, dropping a handkerchief or a hat, as the expression suggests. To drop the hat represents the signal that competitors need in order to get a of a competition started. This use has been now extended to any event that we start enthusiastically at a given signal.

  • Example:
Teacher:      Are you ready to start answering your tests?
Students:     Give us a copule of minutes more, teacher.
Teacher:      Sorry, but I have to give you your exams at the drop of a hat.

Google Images, “At the drop of a hat”

To Be Asleep At The Switch

Camarón que se duerme, se lo lleva la corriente

  • Meaning:

You sleep at the switch when you fail doing your job properly or when you don’t react quickly when an action has to be taken. As a consequence of that, your job will not be done properly or a big damage might be caused.

  • Origin

A switch at a railroad track lets one train to move from one track to another. Nowadays, this action is done by using a remote control from inside the train that will do the switch under the supervision of a control center. But during railroad first years,  this action was done manually by an operator who was placed right at the switch waiting for the right train to be switched to pull a lever so as to move the heavy vehicle from one track to another. Not doing this accurately meant that two trains might run on the same track, sometimes on opposite ways and later on would possible collide.

  • Example:
•Did he get to know that he won a prize in the TV show?
•Of course not! Even though he was watching the program, he was asleep at the switch and didn’t hear when they read his ticket number.

Google Images, “Asleep at the switch”