Australian Idiom of the Day – Up a Gum Tree

In recognition of Australia Day, which is held on 26th January every year, today’s English idiom of the day is an Australian expression.

Up a Gum tree

If you are ‘up a gum tree’ you are in trouble or in a very awkward position.

Example:  Tony: “My wife caught me buying a drink for my attractive secretary.”  John: “Oh mate, you are up a  gum tree!”

Did you know…?  The original version of this idiom was “like a possum up a gum tree”.  It relates to possums getting into difficulty and being chased up gum trees by dogs.


English Idiom of the Day – Where on Earth

Where on Earth

Adding ‘on earth’ is an idiomatic way of intensifying the word ‘where’.  For example, ‘Where are my keys?’ is a simple request for information. But ‘Where on earth are my keys’ implies that the person is frustrated and has been unable to find their keys and wonders where in the whole world they could be.

Example: Where on earth did you get that ridiculous hat?  Where on earth are my keys?

Similar expressions:  ‘What on earth…?’, ‘Where in the world….?’, ‘Why on earth…?’, ‘How on earth…?’ .  The words ‘on earth’ or ‘in the world’ can be added to what, where, who, why or how to add emphasis.

English Idiom of the Day – Start from Scratch

Start from Scratch

To start from scratch means to start at the very beginning, when a first attempt has failed.

Example: I ruined the cake I just baked.  Now I have to start from scratch.

Did you know…?   The word ‘scratch’ has been used since the 18th century as a sporting term for a boundary or starting point which was scratched on the ground, for example the line drawn on the ground as a starting point for a race.  Therefore, ‘scratch’ has been associated with starting from the beginning.

English Idiom of the Day – To Give a Hand

Give a Hand

To give someone a hand means to help someone do something, especially something that involves physical effort.

Example:  Could you give me a hand with these boxes?   Let me know when you’re moving and I’ll give you a hand.

Similar idiom:  ‘Lend a hand’ – Jane is always willing to lend a hand with refreshments.

English Idiom of the Day – to be ‘Sick and Tired’

Sick and Tired

To be angry and bored because something unpleasant has been happening for too long and it can no longer be tolerated.

Example: You’ve been giving me the same old excuses for months and I’m sick and tired of hearing them!

Similar idiom:  A similar expression with the same meaning is to say ‘sick to death’. For example: “I’ve been treated like dirt for two years now and I’m sick to death of it!”

English Idiom of the Day – In the Nick of Time

In the Nick of Time

Just ‘in the nick of time’ means just at the critical moment; just in time; not too late, but very close!

Example: I got to the pharmacy just in the nick of time.  It’s a good thing, because I really need this medicine!

I almost missed the train but I got to the station just in the nick of time.

Did you know…?  A ‘nick’ was a wor that used to refer to  a notch or small cut and was synonymous with precision. Such notches were used on ‘tally’ sticks to measure or keep score.

English Idiom of the Day – Get the Ball Rolling

Get the Ball Rolling

To get a process started so that it begin to make progress.

Example Usage: We need to get the ball rolling on the new project;  She was hoping that a meeting with senior managers would get the ball rolling.

Did you know…?   This expression originated in Britain and relates to a game, similar to hockey, which involved a small ball.  There was no interest in the game unless the ball was kept rolling.

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