Idioms

Learn idioms with comprehensive meaning, examples and origin details.

Idioms

Idioms beginning with V

veg out

veg out

Meaning

  • to stop working hard
  • to take things slow and easy
  • to relax and have all worries out of one’s mind
  • to participate in activities that are relaxing in nature and helps one rejuvenate

Example Sentences

  1. After a hard week, I like to veg out in front of the television during the weekend.
  2. My grandfather had decided to work hard until he turned 50 and then veg out and enjoy life.
  3. She just wants to veg out after coming back from school.
  4. I like to veg out every now and then, it is the only way that I can maintain my cool at such a stressful job.
  5. It is important for a person to be attentive at meetings, vegging out is for after work hours.

Origin
In common parlance a person would be referred to in a vegetative state when he has lost his mental capacity and ability to do things by himself. The phrase is milder version of that state which people choose in order to rejuvenate. This is a fairly modern phrase and originates in the late 90’s. The literary origin is not available but this phrase has been used by Julia Robert’s character in the film ‘Pretty Woman’.

Van Gogh’s ear for music

Van Gogh’s ear for music

Meaning

  • Van Gogh was a painter who cut his ear off and this phrase is a pun intended one referring to being tone deaf.
  • When referred to a singer it implies that they are not good and tend to go off key a lot.
  • Someone who cannot understand the different and differences between musical tones.

Example Sentences

  1. Her singing is so bad she has Van Gogh’s ear for music.
  2. My uncle managed just fine in the music industry even though he has a Van Gogh’s ear for music. He used to take care of musical supplies.
  3. This is a classic album. If you can’t make sense of it then you have Van Gogh’s ear for music.

Origin
The origin obviously comes from the incident of Van Gogh, the painter cutting his left ear off after a series of mental illnesses. But the literary origin of the phrase is not available. Van Gogh, after cutting his ear off and rendering himself totally deaf continued to play loud music and tried to sing along too. He was always off key of course. So the expression also refers to someone who can’t sing very well.

One sources says that the phrase is printed in the World Fact Book, which was printed in Siberia.

viper in bosom

viper in bosom

Meaning:

  • a person who deceives you after receiving help from you
  • an unappreciative friend

Example:

  1. I got my friend a good position in my company and all he did is convinced my manger to get him the designation I had in the project. He was no more than a viper in my bosom.
  2. He provided Anaya shelter in his house when she was rendered homeless & she kept stealing money from his cupboard until he knew that she was a viper in his bosom.
  3. She was confident of their relation being truthful and transparent to only know that she has nursed a viper in her bosom all these years: Her husband eloped with a younger woman of the age of his daughter.
  4. Only after the police arrested him for sheltering a friend involved in terrorist activities did he know that all these years he had been nursing a viper in his bosom.

Origin:
The phrase has originated from one of the tales of Aesop, in which a farmer who gives shelter to a viper dying from cold is eventually bitten by the viper after its recovery. The similar thought is also found in Latin ( insinu viperam habere) & the expression is found in various forms in English from late 16th century after it was referred by Shakespeare and Chaucher.

beyond the veil

beyond the veil

Meaning:

  • In an inexplicable or concealed place or condition, especially the mysterious state of existence after death.

Example:

  • Many people have tried to discover beyond the veil but did not succeed. We only have imaginations from the stories of people with near death experiences.
  • Had the boy not been beyond the veil, he too would have been killed by the gang.
  • He seems to be beyond the veil as he doesn’t answer appropriately when asked about his business.
  • She did not want to submit her assignment as it was incomplete so she hid beyond the veil until the school got over.
  • Psychotherapists use technique of hypnosis to help patients discover the reason for their beyond the veil emotions. It has proven to be effective.
  • Aren’t you tired of pushing yourself beyond the veil? You must talk to someone to help you move past such emotion.

Origin:
Reference to the veil which concealed the deepest sanctuary of the Temple in Jerusalem i.e which in Jewish place of worship separated the main body of the Temple from the tabernacle, and derives particularly from Tyndale’s conversion of the Bible. It was afterwards taken as referring to mysterious division between the next world and this.

variety is the spice of life

variety is the spice of life

Meaning:

  • New and exciting practices make life more attractive.
  • One should attempt lots of different types of experiences because trying different things maintains life exciting.
  • Life is more fascinating when it changes repeatedly and you have many diverse incidents.

Example:

  1. I started learning tennis after having tried swimming because variety is the spice of life.
  2. She loves trying different sports every year as she knows variety is the spice of life.
  3. James keeps exploring different countries every year. He says variety is the spice of life.
  4. Aren’t you bored of visiting the same restaurant every weekend? You should know that variety is the spice of life.
  5. One should learn different things for having different experiences as variety is the spice of life that keeps one moving.
  6. It is not his fault to keep changing his profession every five years. The belief that variety is the spice of life is in his blood.
  7. This generation believes that variety is the spice of life; that is why they keep changing their interests.

Origin:
This proverbial expression comes from William Cowper s poem The Task (1785): Variety’s the very spice of life, That gives it all flavors.

vale of years

the vale of years

Meaning:

  • the decreasing time of a individual’s life.
  • old age
  • the last years of life

Examples:

  1. I shall not leave my parents during their vale of years.
  2. One wants nothing but a peaceful life during their vale of years.
  3. The couple did not go abroad because they had an old age home to look after & didn’t want many in the vale of years to be rendered homeless & unlooked.
  4. You shall plan from now because after you retire you’ll have nothing much to do & will feel dissatisfied. So keep yourself consumed in something that is of value & shall keep you occupied during the vale of years.
  5. She had lost her passion of earning more than needed as she found her purpose during the vale of years.
  6. Mother Teresa became so because she didn’t allow her vale of years to be a hindrance in her path rather committed to the service of mankind.
  7. What a person receives during his vale of years is an outcome of all the deeds he has done throughout his life.
  8. My grandfather is highly enthusiastic about his business, therefore, he visits the office every other day in his vale of years.

Origin:
This expression comes from Shakespeare’s Othello: ‘For I am declined into the vale of years’.

volte face

volte face
Meaning: a sudden change of a belief or plan to the opposite of what it was before.
Example: After 10 years of working with a travelling company, she made a complete volte-face, joining the local company, of totally opposite profile near her home.

vent spleen

vent spleen

Meaning:

  • to exhibit your rage
  • to express your feelings of anger
  • air, articulate or give voice to one’s anger

Example:

  1. The board members in the annual meeting witnessed the company’s shareholders venting their spleen over them as they were angry.
  2. After being treated badly by the coach, Meher saw the interview as an opportunity to vent her spleen indirectly at the coach.
  3. After the journalist got beaten by the chairman, journalists vented their spleen by participating in the protest march for getting the chairman arrested.
  4. These days people have started venting their spleen over social media, against the malpractices of the government.
  5. Doctors say that those people who suppress their emotions are subjected to various life long & fatal diseases compared to those who vent their spleen by engaging in different positive activities.
  6. It is better to get aside when someone is venting their spleen rather than arguing & elevating their anger.
  7. The social workers used the press conference as an opportunity to vent their spleen on politicians.

Origin:
The idiom vent your spleen got its reference from the “spleen”, an organ in the body near the stomach. It was believed in European medicine until 19th century from medieval times that the emotion of anger was caused by the spleen which was source of humours. Therefore, anger could be expelled by venting the spleen.