- to meet someone
- to find something
- it is used to express something that has come up by chance and was not a planned event or meeting
- The men had never come across a failure and hence did not know how to deal with it.
- I came across this very wise man who told me more about myself than anyone knew about.
- She wants to come across as this very confident young woman but then doesn’t that come from within?
- Can you come across to my desk to talk this out please?
- I am coming across such an issue after a very long time. Let me relook at what solution was used the last time it had happened.
- Have you come across such arrogant behaviour ever in your life?
- My mother came across this ancient recipe from my grandmother’s things and decided to give it a go. It was absolutely delicious.
- She should have come across his affair much sooner.
- Coming across such an important decision in life makes me feel closer to my friends and family.
- Have you come across such a problem before?
The origin of the phrase is speculated to be from the 12th century UK English.
come what may
- anything happens; whatever come about
- to resolve on doing (something)
- to be sure of going ahead in a particular situation even if all the odds are not in favour
- to ignore the circumstances in order to get something done
- no matter what may happen
- The girl has decided to marry him come what may. She will proceed even if her entire family is against her decision.
- I have decided to go to London to complete my higher education come what may.
- She has promised her mother that she will pass the exam come what may this year.
- We will be vacationing outside the country this year come what may.
- My cousin is going to go to the party come what may.
- She got the assignment and will not finish it come what may.
- I am going to board that train come what may.
- It’s good to know that, come what may, our job is safe.
The phrase was used in the French language in the early 1300’s as “avalze que valze” which means “let it avail what it may, come what may”. Shakespeare made it popular by using it in his work ‘Macbeth’ in the year 1605. By the 1800’s it was a popular US phrase just as much as it belonged to the European English.
curiosity killed the cat
- too much curiosity can lead to dangerous situations
- being too inquisitive can get you into trouble
- a prying behaviour can be harmful
- used to warn someone not to ask too many questions about something
- When he started asking too many questions of his neighbours about their whereabouts during the weekend, they warned him that curiosity killed the cat.
- When Jane asked George where he was going at the middle of the night, he replied that curiosity killed the cat.
- Joe was very curious about where Sarah was getting all her money from, but all she said was that curiosity killed the cat.
- He refused to answer any of our questions regarding where he spent his vacation, saying instead “curiosity killed the cat”.
- Though he knew all about the matter, he refused to divulge it to anyone, only saying that curiosity killed the cat.
- “Where are you going all of a sudden?” he asked. “Curiosity killed the cat” she replied.
The original expression was “care killed the cat”, where care was used to denote worry or sorrow. That original expression was first recorded in 1598 in Ben Jonson’s play “Every Man in His Humour.” The current expression with “curiosity” is much newer, and the earliest record can be found in 1898 in The Galveston Daily News.
cup of joe
also cup o’ joe / cuppa joe
- When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is make myself a cup of joe.
- I am going to the coffee shop for a cup of joe.
- Nothing energizes me more than a cup of joe in the morning.
- That long meeting has given me bad headache. What I really need now is a strong cup of joe.
- I can’t really think straight in the morning until I have had my first cup of joe.
- We’ve been travelling for quite some time. Let’s stop somewhere for a cup of joe.
- Where can I get a good cup of joe around here?
- I am going for a cup of joe; anyone interested?
The expression originated in the USA, however, why coffee is refereed to as “joe” is unclear, though there are a number of interesting theories. One theory is that the when the then US Navy Secretary, Josephus Daniels, banned alcohol on ships in 1914, the sailors drank coffee instead and grudgingly referred to it as a cup of joe. Another theory is that the term is a short form of “jamoke”, which itself is a combination of Java and Mocha, which are two types of coffee. A third theory says that joe is used as in “average Joe’, that is, is common man. Hence a cup of joe is a common man’s drink. Yet another theory says that during World War I, US soldiers were served instant coffee made by G. Washington Coffee Refining Company and referred to it as a cup of George, later shortened to cup of Geo, which would then be corrupted to cup of joe.
come hell or high water
- come what may
- any difficulties or obstacles that may occur
- no matter what happens
- no matter how difficult it is
- I want to complete this report by today, come hell or high water.
- He said he will be going for the trip, come hell or high water.
- His boss said he wanted the project completed by the end of the week, come hell or high water.
- She said she had planned her vacation since a year and she would be going for it, come hell or high water.
- He said he would leave by evening, come hell or high water, since he had an appointment with his dentist and he did not want to miss it.
- My friend has started up a new company and he wants it to be successful, come hell or high water.
- He said he wanted to shift into his new home by the end of the year, come hell or high water.
- I will be there for your wedding, come hell or high water.
The phrase originated in America around the mid 1800s and the earliest print reference is from 1882 in an Iowa newspaper, The Burlington Weekly Hawk Eye. However, why hell or high water is referenced to as obstacles is not clear.
close, but no cigar
- be very close to accomplishing a goal but fall short
- almost successful in doing something, but not quite
- fall just short of a desired outcome, and get nothing for the efforts
- nearly, but not completely correct
- You did quite well for someone who was playing for the first time. You attempt for close, but no cigar.
- Close, but no cigar; is how I would describe his attempt at the sports event in our locality.
- “How did your team do in the tournament?” “Close, but no cigar; we came second.”
- Despite all his attempts at winning the competition, he could never quite do it. It was always close, but no cigar.
- The team’s performance in the contest was close, but no cigar.
- He had always wanted to win that prize and on numerous occasions had been close, but no cigar. This time, though, he managed to win it.
- They didn’t quite catch him doing it. They were close, but no cigar.
The phrase originated in the US during the mid 20th century. It alludes to the practice of stalls at fairgrounds and carnivals giving out cigars as prizes. This phrase would be used for those who were close to winning a prize, but failed to do so.
- to eat something, usually quickly or vigorously
- eat greedily or without good manners
- eat heartily
- sit down to eat
- Is the food ready yet? I am hungry and ready to chow down all you have got.
- At the end of a long trek, we were all hungry and ready to chow down whatever was offered for dinner.
- Chow down man! Once we start our journey you will not get anything to eat for almost four to five hours.
- He was very busy that day and chowed down his lunch in five minutes before rushing off to attend to his work.
- The stray dog was skinny and looked famished, and when I threw my half eaten sandwich at him, he chowed it down in no time.
- The food looks delicious! Let’s chow down without wasting any time.
- Eager to go out and play with his friends, the little boy chowed down his food and ran off outside.
The term Chow is a slag for food and has origins in Chinese and pidgin English and has been used since the mid 19th century. The phrase “chow down” originated in the USA sometime around the World War II and was a military slang for eating. The earliest printed record is found in “The Hammond Times” from December 1942.
can’t stand the sight of
- to hate someone very much
- to strongly dislike someone
- cannot tolerate someone
- be unable to put up with someone
- After years of being in an unhappy marriage and later going through an ugly divorce, they now can’t stand the sight of each other.
- They were friends once, but sometime back they had a huge argument, calling each other names publicly, and since then they can’t stand the sight of each other.
- He can’t stand the sight of her after she dumped him and started dating his rival from college.
- You have hurt her a lot and right now, she can’t stand the sight of you. Give it some time and see if you can make her come around.
- Jane can’t stand the sight of that woman. She blames her for having broken her marriage up.
- Andy says he thinks Sue is a big snob and he can’t stand the sight of her; but I think it’s because he feels he is not good enough for her.
- If you can’t stand the sight of them why did you invite them over to your house?
- He’s not going to the party because he can’t stand the sight of some of the people who are coming.
The phrase “can’t stand” meaning to dislike originated in the early 1600s.
- affection given in order to gain a reward
- love shown by someone in order to get what they want
- love given in order to get something from someone
- a show of love inspired by some selfish or greedy motive
- a show a love that stems from the hope of some gain
- insincere or superficial love motivated by selfish interest
- I had suspected all along that Jane’s affair with that man was just cupboard love. What she really liked about him was his big mansion and luxurious car.
- They children usually never pay much attention to the old man, though he tries to speak with them; but they show him a lot of cupboard love when he get some candies and chocolates for them.
- I believe its just cupboard love that holds them together. She loves the security he provides and he loves her great cooking.
- It’s cupboard love for sure between those two, but let’s hope it is good while it lasts.
- In a typical display of cupboard love, the child ran to her and jumped into her lap as soon as she brought out the toy she had got for him
- It’s cupboard love I know, but at least they will be fond of me for as long as I keep bringing them gifts.
This phrase originated in the mid 1700s. It derives from the way a cat shows superficial love for a person who feeds it, or for the cupboard that holds its food.
chew the fat
- to have friendly banter for hours on end
- a long and informal conversation with someone
- to gossip with friends at leisure
- I’ve been meaning to get a hold of my friends from US since quite a while, if I can manage to do that after the party then I’ll go and chew the fat with them at our regular hangout.
- How nice to see you here. Have a seat and let’s chew the fat for a while.
- The whole purpose for having this event is so that school friends can come together and chew the fat. That is why it is known as a reunion.
Chewing the fat is speculated to be something that was done at leisure by the North American Indians. Farmers in Britain would chew on pork fat when sitting idle or chatting with other farmers. It is also speculated to be an activity that sailors would do. They would have hardened and salted animal fat which would provide nutrients when on a voyage but would be required to be chewed for a long time. This became a routine activity where friends would gossip and thus from the literal meaning it is now used metaphorically. There is no evidence to support this speculation though.
Another speculation is the fact that the phrase originates from the actual movement of the mouth when chewing fat which resembles when friends get together to gossip. Both activities require the mouth to move for a long time. In 1885, J Brunlees Patterson used it in his literary work called ‘Life in the Ranks of the British Army in India’.