So You Say...
Off the Wall, August 10 , 2017

I was talking to a doctor the other day when I made a remark that I thought a lot about ever since. I stated, “ You know, I don’t have a leg to stand on when I do that!”

Then it occurred to me, “What a stupid expression. Does my leg disappear when I do the act? If I commit the same act, do I lose the other leg? I’m glad it only stops with my legs. Where would I be if referred to other parts as well? Oh my gosh, shutter the thoughts!

As quoted from, “Every language has its own collection of sayings. They offer advice about how to live and also transfer underlying ideas, principles and values of a given culture/society. These sayings are called ‘idioms’ – or proverbs if they are longer. These combinations of words have (rarely complete sentences) a ‘figurative meaning’, they basically work with ‘pictures.’”

If Nancy tells Dick to “break a leg,” that’s not giving him the idea he won’t have a leg on then. Instead, it means to do a great job. If Linda says to Lou, “Have a light heart,” she’s not referring to the weight of his heart, but rather to be cheerful, carefree and happy. In referring to one’s personal body part, Ken often tells Cindy, “You’ve got a heavy foot.” That’s not meaning she kicked him in the butt and it hurt, but that she is driving too fast and her foot is pressing the accelerator pedal down too hard. The phrase is often used in theatrical performances.

Then there is Twila Terwilla from Spocanna, Washington.

She’s one of those women who feels she has all the right answers to everything. Her statement usually goes like this: “I never apologize. I’m sorry, but that’s just the way I am.” Ah? One ought to get a tape recording and play those statements back to her.

How many times have one heard, “A penny for your thoughts?” Will one actually get that coin and have it be handed to one? I doubt it. The statement actually means, “A way of asking what one is thinking.”

Marlo Spoofnot, Joecox, Nevada, did so at “the drop of a hat.” Did he actually drop his hat when told so by a friend? I don’t think so. It was more so of a way of saying, “he climbed up a tree to watch his girl friend walk down the street “without hesitation.”

Mildred Slamdunc, Boncibal, Minnesota, was playing tennis with her boyfriend, Dennis Rackitt, when she returned the ball back into her side of the court. She then yelled out, “OK, the ball is in your court.” In one sense, one could say she’s right, but the idiom means, “”It is up to another to take the next step or make the next decision.”

Larry Shepherd, Daschund, Ohio, let his boxer out of the house into the backyard. Quickly, it noticed at least two to three gray squirrels and instantly pursued them. Not seeing exactly where they went, it stood on its hind legs against an elm tree and barked constantly. Was it “barking up the wrong tree?” Possibly, but in this case the idiom also means, “accusing the wrong person.”

Bob and Rita Bayberry of Missedtick, Rhode Island, decided to play tag. In so doing, they beat around the bush in their grandparents’ yard. She was too much for him as she caught up to him and touched him yelling, “You’re it!” That may be interrupted one of the ways, but this grouping of words also means, “avoiding the main topic or not speaking directly about a subject.”

When Jeff and Molly Gotoogetre of Connect Junction, West Virginia, married, he exclaimed, “This is the best thing sine sliced bread.” Not often put that way in these situations, the expression does mean “good idea or plan.”

When Sam Smarthed, Stonskul, New Hampshire was collecting rocks for his collection and putting them in a knapsack, filling it over the required capacity, his buddy yelled to him, “You’re biting off more than you can chew.” What was meant by that outburst? The answer, he was “taking on a task that was way too big.”

Brian Swiftrun and Gerry Fastrunner, both of Speedhaven, Wisconsin, often run together. When Gerry finds himself alone, he ponders going further than usual. Brian has been known to tell him, “Don’t count your chickens before the eggs hatch” meaning, “don’t make plans for something that may not happen.”

- Paul J. Volkmann
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