Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Idioms based on Animals

(it's) raining cats and dogs

Meaning: You can say "it's raining cats and dogs" if it's raining very hard.
For example:
  • We can't go now because it's raining cats and dogs.
  • Why do people always use "it's raining cats and dogs" as an example of an idiom? No-one actually uses it any more, do they?
Origin: The first time this phrase appeared in print was in Jonathan Swift’s "A Complete Collection of Polite and Ingenious Conversation in 1738", in which he wrote, "I know Sir John will go, though he was sure it would rain cats and dogs". The phrase's source before this time remains a mystery, despite the many theories that have been put forward to explain its origin.

(like) water off a duck's back

Meaning: You can say an insult or criticism is like water off a duck's back if it doesn't upset you.
For example:
  • I asked Amy if she got upset when journalists wrote negative things about her, and she said she didn't care what they wrote - it was like water off a duck's back.
  • Terry said he was too sensitive about criticism and he wanted to be like one of those people for whom it's like water off a duck's back.
Origin: Probably related to the fact that ducks have oily feathers and water can't get through them, so water runs off their backs. In the same way, criticism can either get through to someone and upset them, or not get through to them and not upset them, and be "like water off a duck's back."

a night owl

Meaning: You're a night owl if you like to stay up and do things late at night.
For example:
  • She's always been a night owl. Even when she was a student she'd study late at night and get up as late as possible the next day.
  • I don't know why I'm a night owl. I just seem more alert at night, and even if I go to bed early I can't get to sleep till about 3 in the morning.
Origin: Metaphorical idiom related to the fact that owls are nocturnal birds that are active at night.

a queer fish

Meaning: If someone's a queer fish, they are a bit strange and can sometimes behave in an unusual way.
For example:
  • Your great grandfather was a queer fish, Johnny. He used to write funny poems and then he'd read them aloud to everyone on the train on his way to work.
  • Some of the characters described as "queer fish" in old novels might be called "weirdos" these days.
Note: This is a very old-fashioned idiom. You might hear it in old movies, or read it in old novels, or you might even hear elderly people using it, but you probably shouldn't try using it yourself.

a whale of a time

Meaning: If you have a whale of a time, you have a great time and really enjoy yourself.
For example:
  • I went to a karaoke club with my friends last night and we had a whale of a time. It was great!
  • Janet said she had a whale of a time at the party. I wish I'd gone too now.
Quick Quiz:
Ollie said he had a whale of a time at the jazz festival and he
  1. wishes he hadn't gone
  2. wants to go again next year
  3. probably won't bother going again

People used to say Uncle Charlie was a queer fish because he
  1. talked to himself
  2. didn't like fishing
  3. loved swimming

Cassandra is a night owl, so she doesn't usually get up until about
  1. 11 a.m.
  2. 11 p.m.
  3. 7 a.m.

Many people claim that insults or negative comments are like water off a duck's back, but in reality, many of them are
  1. pleased by such things
  2. upset by such things
  3. unaffected by such things

It's raining cats and dogs, so
  1. watch out for falling animals
  2. make sure you take an umbrella
  3. keep your pets inside

                                                                       Ref: http://www.englishclub.com

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