Бз ? 60 — 1970 — ?5 4 И (Англ) (07)
The aim of this book is to supply a number of colloquial English idioms classified, explained and illustrated by examples
drawn mainly from modern English and American authors. It
will be noticed that the term "idiom" is used here in its broader
sense, embracing both idioms proper and so-called "non-
idiomatic" word groups. Only colloquial phrases are included in
the book; a few idioms marked "slangy" are more for
recognition than actual use. W. Ball's classification of colloquial
idioms (see below), though greatly changed, is partially used in
The definitions and explanations are taken mainly from the
1. The Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current
English, by A. S. Hornby, E. V. Gatenby, H. Wakefield,
2. A Concise Dictionary of English Slang, by W. Freeman.
3 A Practical Guide to Colloquial Idiom, by W. J. Ball.
4. English Idioms and How to Use Them, by
5. English Idioms for Foreign Students, by A. J.Worrall.
DIFFICULTIES AND TROUBLE
A general phrase for "(to be) in difficulties or trouble" is: (to be) up against it — (to be) confronted by formidable
difficulties or trouble
"Well, old girl, "she murmured, "you're up against
it this time, and no mistake." (K. M.)
You were a brick to me when I was up against
it. (J. G.)
We are properly up against it here, Chris. We've
paid out every stiver we've got. (A. C.) (To be) in for it (trouble) is similarly used, meaning (to be) involved in trouble.
He grabbed the knob and pulled vigorously. It had
closed. Heavens! He was in for it now, sure enough.
Quickly I got in before Brown and said they might
be in for another kind of trouble. (C. S.) If you
break the school windows, you'll be in for trouble.
Having (getting into) trouble (difficulties) is colloquially expressed by these phrases:
(to be) in a jam — (to be) in a difficulty or in an awkward situation
Well, Dad, I'm in a bit of a jam again. (J. M.)
Connie was all right. She'd been in plenty of jams
herself. She wouldn't turn up her nose. (N. C.) He
was in a bit of a jam, that was all. (N. C.) (to be) in a fix — in a difficulty (or dilemma)
Then she'ld be in just the same old fix, only worse.
His cart has stuck in the river, so that he is in a bad
fix. (W. M.)
I should like to see the fix I'd be in in this house if I
started laying down that law. (L. A.) to be in (get into) a scrape — to be in (get into) trouble (difficulty)
She perceived she was in a scrape, and tried in vain
to think of a way of escape. (H. W.) If he'd get into a
scrape, or break his leg. (J. G.) I'll do anything you
like to help you out of the scrape if you're in one. (H.
(to be) in a hole — (to be) faced with what appears to be a
disastrous difficulty, an insurmountable trouble
You'd think to judge from the speeches of the
"leaders", that the world had never been in a hole
before. The world's always in a hole, only in the old
days people didn't make a song about it. (J. G.) (to be) in the soup (cart) — (to be) in disastrously serious
What if she declared her real faith in Court,
and left them all in the soup! (J. G.)
"He's got himself properly in the soup, he has, "
he said thickly. (N. C.)
"No good crying before we're hurt, " he said,
"the pound's still high. We're good stayers."
"In the soup, I'm afraid." (J. G.)
"Now we're really in the cart, " she said. (A. Chr.) (to be) in hot water or to get into hot water — to have (get into) trouble, especially as the result of foolish behaviour
You'll get into hot water if you type the wrong
addresses on the envelopes again. (W. B.) It often
happens that a young wife is in hot water as long as
her mother-in-law lives in the same house. (W. M.)
The schoolmaster got into hot water with the
Inspector for taking part in political meetings. (W.
(to be, get into) in deep water — undergoing difficulty or misfortune
He looked and looked, and the longer the situation
lasted the more difficult it became. The little shop-
girl was getting into deep water. (Th. D.) (to be) in a mess — (to be) in trouble
Uncle, you're so renowned for dropping your best
pals when they're in a mess. (J. G.) ... — if ever the
story breaks you're in a worse mess than ever, aren't
you? (C. S.)
to catch it — to get into trouble; to receive censure or blame
The new boss is a terror. You'd better watch your
step or you'll catch it. (W. B.) The sharing of difficult or adverse circumstances is com-
mented upon by the following phrase:
to be (all) in the same boat — to have the same dangers
(difficulties) to face
The trouble is how to get on without reducing staff.
Everyone is in the same boat. (J. G.) You're in the
same boat. Don't you see this war is being lost? (S.
Lewisham looked at mother for a moment. Then he
glanced at Ethel. "We're all in the same boat, " said
Lewisham. (H. W.)
To leave a person in difficulties or trouble is to leave him (her)
in the lurch.
One thing we have to thank Foch for, he never left
us in the lurch. (J. G.)
Inviting trouble, that is acting or behaving in such a way as to bring trouble upon oneself may be colloquially put thus:
to look (ask) for trouble
Something in your eye says you're looking for
trouble. That's the only kind of search that is bound
to be a success you know. (M. W.) "Guess he is out
looking for trouble, " Roy said. "He may be looking
for it right here, " Jack said. (J. Ald.)
Well, to hell with it, he thought angrily, his life too
complicated without looking for that kind of trouble
all over again. (M. W.) "If you want to go out, I
can't stop you, " she said. "But it'll probably be your
last. You and your chest on a day like
this ..." ..."You and your chest, " she said again. "It's
just asking for trouble." (N. C.)
... I must say that you are asking for trouble ... (J.
to ask for (it) — to take an action leading almost inevitably
to an undesired result or trouble
You've been dismissed — but you did ask for it!
CD. E. S.)
It's asking for it to put a wholly unexperienced
player in the team. (W. B.)
to stick one's neck out — to adopt an attitude that invites
trouble or unfavourable comment; to invite trouble
You won't stick your neck out if you don't
need to? That's all I'm asking you, will you?
However, if Willoughby wanted to stick his neck
out — it was his neck. (S. H.)
And I'd like to be sure that I'm not the only
one to stick out his neck. (S. H.)
Don't stick your neck out too far... (D. A. S.)
Seine colloquial phrases for trouble making are: to stir up a hornets' nest (the nest of hornets) — to stir up host of enemies; cause a great outburst of angry feeling To bring a hornets' nest about one's ears means the same thing.
... You don't seem to realize, Senator, that this has
stirred up a hornets' nest. (D. R.) That suggestion of
mine, it has indeed stirred up the nest of hornets. (A.
to stir up trouble — to make trouble
Sounds innocent enough; but I can see through you.
Get hold of the coloured folk round here and make
them dissatisfied — put ideas in their heads — stir
up trouble! (D. R.)
to raise (make, kick up) a dust (shindy) — to make a disturbance
You'd obviously got to raise the dust about
Nightingale and give them an escape-route at
one and the same damned time. (C. S.)
I don't want his lawyer to kick up a shindy
about this. (A. Chr.)
They'll make a regular dust if they learn about
it. (C. D.)
Warning of trouble to come may be expressed by these
phrases in common use:
the fat is in the fire — what has been done will cause great
trouble, excitement, anger, etc.
Well, the fat's in the fire. If you persist in your
wilfulness, you'll have yourself to blame. (J. G.)
"Yes, " murmured Sir Lawrence watching her, "the
fat is in the fire, as old Forsyte would have said." (J.
trouble is brewing — trouble is about to come
Martin knew immediately the meaning of it.
Trouble was brewing. The gang was his bodyguard.
you're for it — due for, or about to receive, punishment, etc.
Jones is late again, and this time he's for it. (D. E.
A voice came right into the tower with us, it seemed
to speak from the shadows by the trap — a hollow
megaphone voice saying something in Vietnamese.
'We're for it, " I said. (Gr. Gr.)
A difficult task is colloquially speaking:
a large (tall) order — a task almost impossible to perform; a big thing to be asked to perform
"What you and I are going, " he said expansively,
"is to revolutionize this whole damn industry. That's
a large order, and it may take us a long time but
we'll pull it off." (M. W.) He says: "Well, Mr.
Cauton, it looks a pretty tall order to me." (P. Ch.) a hard nut to crack — a very difficult problem
The police cannot find any traces; the burglars have
indeed given them a hard nut to crack. (K. H.) A difficult or critical situation is also colloquially described
by the adjectives tricky and sticky.
"Never mind, " he consoled himself. "Nothing's so
tricky when you've done it once." (N. C.) It was a
tricky job, but Minerva pulled it off. (L. A.)
"It gets tricky here, " Moose said as they entered the
woods. (J. Ald.) I expect it'll be rather a sticky do. (R.
A troublesome difficulty may be aptly expressed by a phrase
from Hamlet: Aye, there's the rub.
But dreams! Ay, there was the rub. (E. L.)
Lammlein! Lammlein was involved, too. Here was
the real rub. (S. H.)
An unexpected difficulty (hindrance) is colloquially speaking
a snag or a hitch.
"If there's any snag, " said George, "I should expect
you to look on me as your banker." (C. S.) I take it
there won't be any hitch about that, Brown? (C. S.) Some colloquial phrases to describe financial difficulties are:
to be hard up — to be short of money
"She always talks about being hard up, " said Mrs.
Allerton with a tinge of spite. (A. Chr.) Oh, but we
may go to the theatre, you see, Mother, and I think I
ought to stand the tickets; he's always hard up, you
know. (J. G.)
(to be) in Queer street — (to be) extremely short of money;
in trouble; in debt
But if you ask me — the firm's not far off Queer
street. (A. Chr.)
A man must be in Queer street indeed to take a risk
like that. (J. G.)
(to be) on one's beam ends — to be without money, helpless
or in danger
"What has he to say for himself?"
"Nothing. One of his boots is split across the
toe." Soames stared at her.
"Ah!" he said, "of course! On his beam ends."
to be (stony) broke — to be penniless
But we're less broke than we were. I could borrow a
dress from May Turner. (M. W.) He sobered up.
"Stony broke, " he said. (G.)
They can hardly (can't) make both ends meet also expresses an acute financial embarrassment.
With the high rent for their flat they can hardly
make both ends meet on his small salary. (K. H.) 12