Idioms

Learn idioms with comprehensive meaning, examples and origin details.

Idioms

Idioms beginning with T

tie the knot

tie the knot

Meaning

  • to get married

Example Sentences

  1. They have been dating each other for quite some time now and are planning to tie the knot a few months from now.
  2. He tied the knot with his long time girlfriend in a quiet ceremony in his private farmhouse in his ancestral village.
  3. After five years of going around with each other, George and Mia have finally decided to tie the knot later this year.
  4. The celebrity couple tied the knot in a gala ceremony amidst huge fanfare and press coverage.
  5. I heard Chris and Tina will be tying the knot soon. Do you know what they have planned?
  6. If you really think he is perfect for you, why don’t you two plan to tie the knot soon?
  7. They tied the knot in a private ceremony and flew off to their honeymoon without much ado.

Origin
The word knot has been associated with marriage since very old times, with the first known occurrence in 1225. It is not clear whether the knot refers an actual knot being tied in marriage ceremonies or it is just a symbolic reference to two people being united. This exact expression was first recorded in 1717 by an English poet, Matthew Prior in his poem “Alma; or, The Progress of the Mind.”

tall story

tall story

Meaning

  • A story that cannot be believed easily.
  • Something that is made up to be out of the plausibility range.
  • A story making claims that is based on untrue facts making something look bigger than it is, that is, an exaggerated story.

Example Sentences

  1. You cannot believe everything he says since most of them are just tall stories.
  2. That is such a tall story because it has been passed down in generations and every one added something of their own to it. Now, when one hears it, it sounds legendary.

Origin
The origination comes from boastfulness which was meant to either deceive or just amuse people. In the 1900’s these kind of stories were known as Munchausens which was named after an actual person. He was popular because he would always have extravagant stories about himself. In the United States, tall stories were the tales that were told and retold around the campfire. It usually involved mythical characters achieving larger than life tasks.

In the literary world, the phrase was first used in 1670 in ‘The Grounds & Occasions of the Contempt of the Clergy’ by John Eachard. This became more popular 1869 in Routledge’s Every Boy’s Annual which used the phrase as it is meant today.

twist arm

twist arm

Meaning

  • to make someone do what you want by making it difficult for them to refuse
  • to persuade someone to do what they don’t want
  • to pressurize someone
  • to coerce, force or cajole someone
  • to strongly encourage someone to do what they don’t want to do

Example Sentences

  1. I did not want to attend the concert, but he twisted my arm into it.
  2. They had to twist his arm a bit, but they managed to get him to join the team.
  3. We had to twist his arm to get the information out of him.
  4. I’ve twisted his arm a bit and he will get you the passes to the event.
  5. Do you intend to cooperate or should we twist your arm?
  6. If he doesn’t agree, you have to twist his arm till you get him to agree.
  7. The witness was reluctant to cooperate at first, but when the police twisted his arm, he came out with the details.
  8. If you find him difficult, just twist his arm a bit and he’ll comply.

Origin
This phrase originated in the mid 1900s and refers to using physical force (by twisting someone’s arm) to get something done.

tongue in cheek

tongue in cheek

Meaning:

  • something said in humour, but with an act of being serious
  • say something in an ironic way
  • say something jokingly, but appearing to be serious
  • jocular or humourous
  • not to be taken seriously

Example:

  1. The latest movie I watched was a tongue in cheek look at the way the media tends to over-hype certain pieces of news.
  2. One of the speakers at the business conference gave a tongue in cheek speech about the current economic condition of the country.
  3. His comments were intended to be tongue in cheek, but his friends took it seriously and that started a huge argument.
  4. He offered a tongue in cheek explanation on why his favourite team was losing repeatedly, saying something about keeping the tournament interesting till the last stages.

Origin:
This phrase is a literal reference to the facial expression created when putting the tongue in one’s cheek. It also includes a wink, to signify that what is being said is not to be taken seriously. The phrase first appeared in print in “The Fair maid of Perth” by Sir Walter Scott in 1928. While it is not clear whether the current meaning was implied in this usage, a later appearance in Richard Barham’s “The Ingoldsby Legends” in 1845 is clear.

take a rain check

take a rain check

Meaning:

  • decline an offer that might be taken up later
  • refuse an offer politely, but imply that it can be taken up later
  • cannot accept an invitation, but would like to do so later

Example:

  1. I’ll take a rain check on the party tonight, I have a lot of work to finish right now.
  2. He said he would take a rain check on visiting us today.
  3. I’ll have to take a rain check on going to the movies this evening, I already have other plans.
  4. He couldn’t attend the concert with his friends. He took a rain check instead.
  5. Mind if take a rain check on the team outing? I have to finish this project by tomorrow.
  6. I would have loved to come to your place, but I’ll take a rain check on that. I will be out of town during the weekend.

Origin:
The phrase originated in the 1880s in the USA in reference to baseball games. If it rained heavily enough for a match to be postponed, the ticket holders to the match were given a “rain check”, i.e., a voucher to attend another match.

tickled pink

tickled pink

Meaning:

  • excited and happy
  • very much pleased
  • delighted

Example:

  1. His wife was tickled pink when he sent her flowers and gifts at work for no reason.
  2. He was tickled pink when his old friend called him up to wish him on his birthday.
  3. She was tickled pink when her painting was selected for the top prize at the competition.
  4. When the retiring teacher received many messages from his former students, he was tickled pink that they still remembered him and cared to send him their wishes.
  5. The children were tickled pink when they were taken for a camping trip.
  6. His parents were tickled pink when he told them that he was taking them for a vacation.
  7. The employees were tickled pink when the company announced a fat bonus for everyone.
  8. We were tickled pink when the guests complemented us on our new house.

Origin:
This phrase originated in America in the early 1900s.

tar with the same brush

tar with the same brush

Meaning:

  • to think that somebody has the same bad qualities as others in a similar surrounding
  • to characterize someone with the same undesirable attribute as another
  • believe to be having the same faults

Example:

  1. Though the impression is that all government officials are corrupt, some of them are quite honest; its not fair to tar them with the same brush.
  2. The players of that team are a bunch of jokers, but the captain shouldn’t be tarred with the same brush. He is a great player.
  3. He may be from the same school, but don’t tar him with the same brush.
  4. While its true that most people from that region are violent, let’s not tar all of them with the same brush.
  5. Since Jack had worked closely with Bob, he was tarred with the same brush when reports of Bob cheating the company came out.

Origin:
This phrase is thought to have multiple origins, but none of them are confirmed. It may refer to the practice of marking sheep with tar, both to distinguish from another herd and also to protect it from ticks. Another reference may be to the cruel practice of tarring and feathering of criminals, wherein hot tar was poured over the criminal’s shaven head and feathers attached to the tar.

taste of own medicine

taste of own medicine

Meaning:

  • when someone gets the same bad treatment that he has been giving others
  • a sample of the unpleasantness that someone has been giving others
  • do the same bad thing to a person who has done it to you
  • when someone is mistreated the same way he has mistreated others

Example:

  1. I’m tired of him always finding faults with me. I’m going to give him a taste of his own medicine.
  2. Its not for nothing that people are calling you names; you’re getting a taste of your own medicine.
  3. Don’t be rude to others. You won’t like it when you get a taste of your own medicine.
  4. The players of that team were hurling abuses at their opponents, but they didn’t like it when they got a taste of their own medicine from the fans.
  5. He is always late for appointments and keeps people waiting, so we decided to give him a taste of his own medicine.
  6. If he doesn’t change his behaviour by reasoning, he’s going to get a taste of his own medicine.

Origin:
This origin of this phrase can be found in one of Aesop’s fables. It is about a swindler who sells fake medicine, claiming that it cures anything. When he himself falls ill, people give him his own medicine, which he knows will not cure him.

take with a grain of salt

take with a grain of salt
also, take with a pinch of salt

Meaning:

  • to understand that something is not completely true or right
  • not take something too seriously
  • accept, but with some reservations or skepticism
  • don’t exactly believe something

Example:

  1. I have read the article, but I take it with a grain of salt.
  2. I’ll take anything he says with a grain of salt. He has a habit of exaggerating things.
  3. Before elections, all parties make a lot of promises. They are best taken with a grain of salt.
  4. I’ve heard some reports of his achievements, but I take it with a grain of salt.
  5. This piece of news appears to be a blown up account of what actually happened. I’ll take it with a grain of salt.
  6. The reports painting a rosy scenario of the current economic condition are to be taken with a grain of salt.

Origin:
This great expression, although an ancient one, was not used in its current meaning till much later. It is said that Pliny the Elder translated an ancient antidote for poison in 77 A.D., which recommends taking the antidote with a grain of salt. In its current meaning, however, it has been used since the 1600s. The pinch of salt variant came much later, around the mid 1900s.

speak of the devil

speak of the devil
also talk of the devil

Meaning:

  • when someone comes in unexpectedly while being talked about
  • when talking about a certain person, that person appears

Example:

  1. We were huddled together in our lunch table, talking about our boss, when he walked in. Well, speak of the devil!
  2. Did you see Bob today? Oh, there he comes! Speak of the devil.
  3. Do you know what Parker did yesterday? Oh, speak of the devil, here he comes!
  4. They were discussing the girl who was his new crush when she walked in. Speak of the devil.
  5. Did you hear what happened to Mary today – oh, speak of the devil, there she is.
  6. I hope our teacher doesn’t come today – oh, speak of the devil, here he comes.

Origin:
This phrase, in its current usage, is a lighthearted way of referring to someone who has unexpectedly come in when being talked about, however, prior to the 20th century, it wasn’t a lighthearted one. The full form of this phrase is “Speak of the Devil and he will appear”, and was meant to warn people not to talk about the Devil. It was widely known and used by the mid 1600s.

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