The world of idioms, страница 3

People are very competitive. In any situation, there is usually someone who wants to get the upper hand, or get everything under his control. On the other hand, if you are hand in glove with someone, you are on such intimate and friendly terms that neither of you will want to gain power over the other. A friend like that will never be offhand with you, for an offhand person is rude and thoughtless. When something changes hands, it means that it goes from one owner to another. When the new owner buys it — a car, for example — he buys a second-hand car. If it was a bad car, the first owner might be glad to wash his hands of it. We hope that before long, you will be able to hear some of these idioms at first hand in conversation with an English person.


Nose, the organ of smell.

The nose is a very expressive part of the face. Noses can look comic, proud, impressive, strong or weak. Because the nose is at the centre of the face, it is often associated with direction. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the poet, said that the nose is 'the rudder of the will.'

For example, if you are told to follow your nose, it is obvious that you must keep straight on without turning to the right or left. If you keep your nose to the grindstone, you will have no time to look to right or left because you will be working so hard. A grindstone might be uncom­fortable, as hard work often is, but at least it will not harm you.

However, if you cut off your nose to spite your face, you will be doing yourself more harm than good. For example, if you decide not to have a holiday at all rather than go to a place you did not like, then you would be doing just that. If you told your friend that you were not going on holiday with him, the news would probably put his nose out of joint. You can easily put a person's nose out of joint by humiliating him or spoiling his plans. Alternatively, you could do everything your friend wanted, without question or argument. In that case, your friend would be leading you by the nose, like a docile animal.

Your nose can lead you all over the place. A nosey person is someone who is always interested in other people's business. In fact, he puts his nose into everything. Someone who has a very different kind of personality might do just the opposite to that and turn up his nose at everything. In that case, he would be too proud to be interested and would probably reject a lot of people and things because he considered them not good enough for him. A person who behaves like this is sometimes called a toffee-nose or a snob.

If you are not an observant person, something might happen right under your nose and you wouldn't even notice it. Finally, there is one more rather odd expression

concerning noses. If you bought something that was extremely expensive (especially if it was not really worth the expense) you would say unhappily that you had had to pay through the nose for it. You would certainly notice that.


 Teeth, hard white structures growing in the gums.

Teeth bite, chew and grind. They are useful for eating and talking and they can also look attractive if they are  regular and well-kept. But in our language, they often indicate difficulty, or aggression.

Dogs bare their teeth when they want to fight. If a person shows his teeth he may not do it quite so obviously as a dog, but even so it's usually best to get out of his way quickly. If you don't you may have to fight tooth and nail to defend yourself. If you are not good at fighting your teeth may start chattering from fear. People's teeth chatter when they are very cold or frightened, or when they have a fever.

If you get your teeth into something, it doesn't mean that you are feeling dangerous or aggressive. It simply means that you are doing something that involves concentration or effort. You might want to get your teeth into a good book, for example — and that means you want to read it not eat it!