Idioms

Learn idioms with comprehensive meaning, examples and origin details.

Idioms

Idioms beginning with S

salad days

salad days

Meaning

  • the time of youth, innocence and inexperience
  • the time in life when a person is young and has little experience
  • a period of youthful inexperience

Example Sentences

  1. They had met in their salad days and had fallen in love. Naturally, the union did not last long and they separated a few years later.
  2. Back in out salad days, we were adventurous and reckless, doing dangerous things and never thinking of our safety.
  3. Julian and Kathy used to be lovers in their salad days, but broke it off when they realised they were not compatible with each other. However, they have remained good friends.
  4. I had once gotten into trouble with the police over a drunken street brawl; but that was in my salad days, before I had a job, got married and learnt to be responsible.
  5. He may have grown old, but he has shed none of his brashness and aggression of his salad days.
  6. She met him in her salad days, and his charm had such a powerful effect on her that she was forever attracted to him.

Origin
This phrase was first used by Shakespeare in his play “Anthony and Cleopatra” in 1606. After that, the phrase was not used for about two hundred years, until about the 19th century, from when it started to be used widely.

sealed with a kiss

sealed with a kiss

also sealed with a loving kiss, SWAK or SWALK (acronym)

Meaning

  • written and sent with love and care

Example Sentences

  1. When Ted and Judy were living apart in different cities, he would write a letter to her every week and all the letters would be marked with SWAK, or sealed with a kiss, as a mark of how much he loved her.
  2. His presents may be small and humble, but I cherish them because all of them are sealed with a kiss.
  3. In old times, before the age of the internet, lovers would write letters to each other, and these love letters would be sealed with a kiss.
  4. He wrote a beautiful letter to her, and, to further express his love, sealed it with a kiss.
  5. When he was away for prolonged periods on work, he would frequently write letters to her and write SWAK at the back of the envelope, to signify that it was sealed with a kiss.

Origin
The acronym of this phrase, SWAK or SWALK, was commonly written on envelopes sent by servicemen to their lovers during the World War I & II. In medieval times, contracts were were not considered legal until the signers included an X to represent Saint Andrew and would then kiss the X to prove his sincerity.

break up | split up

break up

also split up

Meaning

  • end a romantic relationship with someone
  • end of a marriage or relationship
  • to become separated after being in a marriage or relationship

Example Sentences

  1. After having been married for eight years, their decision to break up came as a huge surprise to their friends.
  2. Tom has finally broken up with the girl he met at the club. Theirs was a relationship that was not meant to last.
  3. She split up with her boyfriend after he kept embarrassing her in front of her friends.
  4. After years of being in a miserable relationship, they finally decided to split up and go their separate ways.
  5. Celebrity break ups and split ups are the toast of the media. In their quest for the latest piece of gossip, they forget that they are dealing with human beings who are going through a difficult time.
  6. The news of their break up followed soon after his wife discovered his adulterous relationships.
  7. They had always come across as a happy and supportive couple; so when they announced that they were splitting up, it came as surprise for many.
  8. He broke up with his partner of three years when he found out that she was dating another man.

Origin
The origin of the phrase is not known.

stormy relationship

have a stormy relationship

Meaning

  • a relationship with many disagreements
  • a relationship with frequent quarrels
  • a relationship with a lot of arguments and shouting
  • an unpredictable but sometimes passionate relationship

Example Sentences

  1. After having a very stormy relationship for around two years, they decided to separate.
  2. Sometimes two people of opposite personalities are attracted to each other, but they usually have a very stormy relationship.
  3. He had a very stormy relationship with his boss, and so decided to look for a new job.
  4. The couple down the street in our neighbourhood have a very stormy relationship, and you can hear them shouting and arguing heatedly almost every day.
  5. After having watched her best friend go through an ugly divorce, Martha said she was glad that she did not have a stormy relationship with her husband.
  6. During the first few years of their marriage, they used to have a very stormy relationship, but over the time, they made the effort to understand each other and now they are the very supportive of each other.
  7. Sam and Sally had a very stormy relationship – they had frequent disagreements and were always arguing.
  8. Instead of carrying on with this stormy relationship, why don’t you call it off?

Origin
The origin of this phrase is not known.

smitten with

smitten with

also smitten by

Meaning

  • suddenly start to like or love someone very much
  • affected by love
  • infatuated with someone
  • in love with someone
  • obsessed with someone

Example Sentences

  1. He is completely smitten with love for her.
  2. He was so smitten by her charming personality and attractive appearance that he left his long time girlfriend to be with her.
  3. This new book is about a rich young entrepreneur who is smitten with a college graduate and how he pursues her and secures her love.
  4. He was so smitten with her that he was ready to follow her anywhere around the world just to be with her.
  5. Ann was smitten by the man she met at a party and has been with him ever since.
  6. When you are smitten with love for someone you are unable to tell their bad qualities from the good and that leads to problems in the relationship later.
  7. You could tell that she was smitten by him, but he was not interested and was just playing her on.
  8. He was smitten by his dance teacher and used to go the her classes whenever he had free time.

Origin
The origin if the phrase is not known.

save face

save face

Meaning

  • To be able to hide public disgrace by taking some action.
  • To be able to correct an action that could have caused embarrassment.

Example Sentences

  1. I managed to save face by being able to speak about the topic, the presentation that was made was really not good.
  2. You can’t save face by showing up with a gift. You should do better by accepting your mistake and working on not making it again.
  3. Saving face is not easy when the magnitude of the error is this big.
  4. She managed to save face in front of the clients because her subordinate brought the product out in time.
  5. The lawyer was not able to save face after his client made such an error at the hearing.
  6. He lost his practicing licence after making such a grave error but is trying to save face by applying for it again.
  7. His wife saved face even though he did not even attend the event by interacting with each guest personally.

Origin
The Chinese phrase ‘tiu lien’ is roughly translated as ‘lose face’ in English. It means to have to suffer public humiliation. The phrase ‘save face’ comes as an opposite to ‘losing face’ and was first used 1899 in the Harmsworth Magazine.

shilly-shally

shilly-shally

Meaning

  • To be undecided.
  • To hesitate.

Example Senteces

  1. He is not shilly-shally about his plans to move to the United States of America.
  2. I knew that he was the one for me. I would have never married him if I were shilly-shally about that.
  3. It is not easy to undo such a decision so you better not take it if you are shilly-shally.
  4. I am shilly-shally about wanting to buy a new car. Perhaps I should just wait another while before considering it seriously.

Origin
As it is often seen with phrases of two words that rhyme or can be said in a tone, one word has a base while the other one adds to the effect of the idiom. In this case the first word that is shilly comes from “shall I?” When asked a lot of time repeatedly, it becomes ‘shilly’. The first literary use comes from the 1700’s where it was used as “Shill I, shall I” in ‘The way of the world’ by William Congreve. Sir Richard Steele used it in ‘The tender husband, or the accomplish’d fools’ in the exact form that the phrase is seen today. This was in the year 1703.

slap on the wrist

slap on the wrist

Meaning

  • To show disapproval.
  • Does not have to be an actual slap, but the action suggests the person ‘slapping’ does not favour what the person getting ‘slapped’ is doing.
  • It is a weak way of showing reprimand. But the intent is on it being weak since the suggested activity is not of a very gruesome nature.
  • It is an attempt to punish without causing any pain.

Example Sentences

  1. I have to keep slapping his wrist away from the cake or there will be nothing left for the party.
  2. She slapped my wrist away from the cookie jar and has the whole thing to herself now.
  3. After he made that obnoxious speech the party high command slapped him on the wrist and the politician was back to his business. This is really not how this behaviour can be controlled.
  4. As a mother, I often have to slap on the wrist of my children to show them what they ought not to do.

Origin
A slap was used literally as well as figuratively. A slap on the face is much harsher than on the wrist. The phrase has been in existence at least since the 1700s. The Oxford English Dictionary has had this since the year 1736.

sick as a dog

as sick as a dog

Meaning

  • To be very sick.
  • The phrase refers to being in a state that is very unpleasant.

Example Sentences

  1. You should not go to study with him today. He seemed to be as sick as a dog according to his friends.
  2. No one likes being as sick as a dog, that is why it is important to take care of one’s self on a regular basis and eat with moderation.
  3. Going to that party would mean that you would drink to your heart’s content and come back to be as sick as a dog in the morning. Why do you do such a thing to yourself?

Origin
Dog was considered an undesirable animal in the 17th century. So much so that there are a lot of phrases which refer to them negatively [tired as a dog, dog in the manger, down to the dogs, dog’s breakfast, dirty dog, etc.]. Sick as dog refers to being so sick that one may feel like vomiting. The first literary use of the expression is in 1705. The phrase still reflects in a negative sense as it was intended back then.

Synonyms and Variants

  • Sick as a Parrot.
  • Sick as a horse (when one is sick without the sensation of vomiting).
  • Sick as a cat.

stir up a hornet’s nest

stir up a hornet’s nest

Meaning

  • It means to cause an upheaval.
  • A commotion which possibly ends in anger and frustration.

Example Sentences

  1. When the auditor asked for more evidences, the treasury department stirred up a Hornet’s nest because they did not have more. This is how the fraud was actually revealed.
  2. He always comes home and stirs up a Hornet’s nest when his school day has not gone well. His mother then makes something nice to eat for him to calm down.
  3. It is a shame that every time such an atrocious act happens it stirs up a Hornet’s nest. Instead women should be provided with more protection and security that such incidents do not take place at all.
  4. The lawyer stirred up a Hornet’s nest when his client was not released even after he had provided the bail papers. He called the judge directly to speak about the matter.

Origin
The phrase dates back from the 1700’s and relates to the anger that hornets show as a metaphor to causing a commotion. The exact literary origin is unavailable but the phrase has been used by many authors for fictional as well as non-fictional work.

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