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C IDIOMS The stories behind common English Idioms.

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1 C IDIOMS The stories behind common English Idioms

2 Break a leg Stage actors are very superstitious ( 迷信). They don’t wish each other “good luck” before a performance because they don’t want to curse their good luck by wishing it in advance. Some people believe the phrase comes from how people bow at the end of a performance. They bend their legs so it looks like there is a break in their legs.

3 Let the cat out of the bag Many centuries ago in England, when you would buy a pig at a market, it would be sold to you in a bag. Pigs were very expensive so a dishonest merchant ( 商人 ) would put a worthless cat in the bag to try to cheat the customer. You wouldn’t find out that there was a cat in the bag until you got home, opened up the bag and discovered the merchant’s secret!

4 It’s raining cats and dogs In 17 th century England, the streets were not very clean. So when it rained very hard, you might see dead animals being carried down the streaming water. Therefore, cats and dogs became associated with heavy rain storms.

5 Turn over a new leaf Meaning: To change your behavior or attitude. Example: Sally used to be lazy and would never do her work, but now she is determined to get into a top university so she has turned over a new leaf.

6 Turn over a new leaf Story behind the idiom: In the 16 th century the word for a page ( 页 ) in a book was a leaf. When you turned over a new leaf in a book, it meant you were turning to a blank page in a workbook to start a new lesson.

7 Skeleton in your closet Meaning: Something you try to hide or keep secret Example: Bob: I have killed three people. Sally: Wow, you have some serious skeletons in your closet.

8 Skeleton in your closet Story behind the idiom: In the 1800s, it was illegal for doctors to use corpses ( 尸体 ) for research. Many doctors would still use them for teaching so they would hide their illegal corpses in closets or cupboards.

9 Goody two shoes Meaning: Someone who thinks they are perfect Example: Everyone’s parents always like Sally, she’s such a goody two shoes.

10 Goody two shoes History behind the idiom: This idiom comes from a nursery rhyme ( 儿歌 ) from the 1700’s. The name “goody two shoes” refers to a poor orphan ( 孤儿 ). The orphan was so poor that she only owned one shoe. A rich man gave her a pair of shoes and she was so happy that she kept bragging ( 吹牛 ) about having two shoes.

11 Get up on the wrong side of the bed Meaning: To wake up and be in a bad mood and know that it is going to be a bad day Example: You are having the worst luck today, you really got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.

12 Get up on the wrong side of the bed History behind the idiom: In Rome, it used to be considered bad luck to get out of bed on the left side. So if you woke up and got out of bed on the “wrong” side then you were destined to have a bad day.

13 Rain check Meaning: To reschedule ( 改期 ) a date or event to a more convenient day. Example: I can’t make it to your house for dinner tonight, can I take a rain check?

14 Rain check Meaning behind the idiom: People don’t like to do things when it’s raining. Some outdoor events are even cancelled because of the rain. So this phrase is a metaphor ( 比喻 ) for not being able to do something because it’s raining.

15 Kick the bucket Meaning: to die, this is very informal and not a very respectful way to talk about someone’s death. Example: Sally: Is your grandmother coming to your wedding? Bob: No, she kicked the bucket last month.

16 Kick the bucket History behind the idiom: A very common way to commit suicide ( 自杀 ) is by hanging oneself ( 吊死 ). People often do this by standing on a bucket and then kicking the bucket away so that they will hang and suffocate ( 窒息 ) to death.

17 Teach me some Chinese idioms! In your group, choose a popular Chinese idiom to teach me 。 Translate the idiom into English, define what it means and use it in a sentence (IN ENGLISH!!!!!).

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