Archive for the ‘Idioms’ Category

Invisible in Eureka

December 10, 2013

Today’s Zippy, with an invisible Zippy haunting Eureka CA (plus a note on the idiom bucket list):



More Pig literalism

November 30, 2013

Today’s Pearls Before Swine, in a long series:

Once again, Pig takes an expression (boots on the ground) literally.

make sure

October 29, 2013

It started with tv commercials for home security systems, for example:

No-show alerts to make sure your kids get home safe (SafeMart systems)

SafeWatch VideoView allows you to keep an eye on who is knocking at your front door, watch over a vacation home, or make sure your kids are safe. (ADT systems)

These have the idiom make sure with a (that) Clause complement. But it turns out that there are two understandings of such examples:

[verifying]  make sure (that) Clause: ‘verify that Clause is true’

[causative] make sure (that) Clause: ’cause it to come about that Clause is true’

The security systems intend the verifying reading — they provide a way to see if your kids are, in fact, safe(ly) at home — but of course they can’t ensure that this will be the case.


dirty tricks

October 22, 2013

In Sunday’s NYT Magazine, an interview by Amy Chozick, “Terry Lenzner on Tricky Dick and Dirty Tricks”, that made me think about the expression dirty tricks, which (surprise to me) seems to be only about 50 years old.


Sunday puns

October 6, 2013

Today’s Pearls Before Swine:

Stephan Pastis rolls with the pun (on the idiom/proverb to kill two birds with one stone), and Rat upbraids him (as usual). Rat also produces another pun, on “Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday”, by the Rolling Stones.

Today’s fine eggcorn

October 5, 2013

From the (Palo Alto) Daily News of October 4th, this letter from Tejinder Uberoi of Los Altos:

Unconcerned that the nation is going to hell in a hen basket, the tired old men of the Republican Party are circling the wagons in a last-ditch effort to defund the Affordable Care Act.

Hen basket (or henbasket) for handbasket (or hand basket), making somewhat more sense of an opaque idiom (opaque for people who aren’t familiar with the compound handbasket) whose only virtue appears to be its alliteration; well, you collect eggs in a basket. Still, such a basket is awfully small for going to hell in, as is a handbasket.


Up Your Alley

September 30, 2013

Posting about the Folsom Street Fair yesterday reminded me of another BDSM street fair in San Francisco. From the fair’s website:

Up Your Alley® is an unrivaled fetish fair, always on the last weekend of July in San Francisco. It’s only for real players – and not for the faint of heart. There are sweaty athletes in full kit, motorcycle studs, hairy chested muscle men, spit-in-your-face punks, and leather daddies galore. You won’t find a filthier event here in the States. If you’re into it, there’s a scene for you at Up Your Alley. With over 10,000 sexy leathermen, you’re sure to find your match. 

Located in front of the legendary Powerhouse bar, leather and fetish enthusiasts engage in serious BDSM play – right on the street! The fair features over 50 vendor booths, hot food and cold stiff drinks, boot black stations, and a dance area with the hottest San Francisco DJs located at the intersection of 10th and Folsom. Check out this only-in-San Francisco event that attracts your most self-indulgent band of brothers. 

In order to accomodate the newly enacted SF nudity ordinance, from which the UYA fairgrounds is exempt, coat check will be available on 10th Street between the food court and Folsom St.

Smaller and more focused than Folsom Street, and seriously raunchy.


getting pelvic

September 25, 2013

Heard on an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, an instance of get pelvic (with someone) ‘have sex (with someone)’, a euphemistic idiom based on the image of the pelvis as the cradle of the genitals. I don’t recall having heard the expression in other contexts, but it seems to have been picked up in Buffy fanfic, where there are many occurrences. Two examples:

Set after season six. After she got back but before they got pelvic, Spike leaves … (link)

Gunn just didn’t get the finer points of the Buffy/Angel relationship, ‘Because they like to get pelvic and now they can ’cause Angel got his soul anchored… (link)


to clean up well/nicely

September 24, 2013

Caught in passing in a posting of mine on AZBlogX about porn actor Boomer Banks (I am not making this name up), who’s notable (at least) for his very long and thick cock (illustrated in my posting), this item in his Rentboy ad (image #3 in the posting):

(1) I clean up well

conveying that Banks can make himself presentable as an engaging companion for social occasions as well as serving as a hot and sweaty sexual partner.

The idiom to clean up well/nicely is a “reflexive/middle-voice” verbal: (1) is roughly paraphrasable as “I clean myself up well” or “I can be cleaned up well/easily”. That is, the referent of the subject is the Patient (the affected participant) in the event, rather than the Agent. Compare the classic This book reads easily.


Ruthie v. English

September 12, 2013

A set of One Big Happy strips in which little Ruthie confronts the language: a spectacular mondegreen, some other misunderstandings based on phonological similarity (with more familiar words replacing unusual ones), and some troubles with idiomatic usages.



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