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Исследовательская работа "English Idioms"


School 52

English Idioms”

The author: Raushaniya Akhunova

9th form pupil

The English teacher: Garaeva G. A.


1. Introduction

2. The definitions of an idiom

3. The meaning of English idioms:

3. 1. Animal idioms

3. 2. Weather idioms

3. 3. Body idioms

3. 4. Colour idioms

4. Conclusion

5. The list of used literature

6. Appendix


English is a very popular international language. It is studied in all countries. When we study English, we can often hear the expressions, the meaning of which is very difficult to catch, despite the fact that we know the translation of all compound words. Such expressions are called idioms. Idioms are an integral part of any language. They show all the history of the country, the history of the development of language, different cultural phenomena and the relation of the speaker to them.

During of our research we try to answer the following questions: How often do people use idioms in their speech? How can we recognize English idioms in novels, poetry? Knowledge of English expressions fully helps to enjoy reading the original English texts. English set expressions not only decorate, they also reduce an unwieldy sentence to small phrases (sometimes even up to two or three words). English idioms is more beautiful to use, they enrich our speech.

The importance of our research is that we don’t completely study the meaning of the idioms and the most of them leave as a mystery for us.

The main objective of research is to explore English idioms and their use in oral speech.

The aims:

1. Create the ability to work with different source of information.

2. Develop interest in the English language through idioms.

3. Broaden English vocabulary and horizon.

The object of research is English idioms.

The subject of research is the use of English idioms in our daily speech.

The method of research is the analysis of dictionaries and other literature.

2. The definitions of an idiom

Idioms exist in many languages, including English, French and others. The word "idiom" comes from the Greek "idίōma", which means "feature, peculiarity".
Idiom is inherent only to this language and not translated accurately into other languages. The synonyms of this word are phraseological unit or steady expression. The example of idioms of the Russian language: to work in a slipshod manner, in other words, to perform poorly. An example of a stable expression from the English language: to see red. It means to get angry. There are no General regularities in the formation of idioms.

The process of birth of any phraseological unit is a chain of accidents. And in almost every case, this process is special. Because for every word there must be a story, therefore each idiom must have originated. Some of them were introduced into the language by writers, others find their roots in the Bible, others came from other languages such as French and Latin, for example. But whatever the history of their origin, we look at idioms with different eyes, and they don't seem more complicated or confusing.

You cannot learn to remember English idioms, they can be only learnt. Although some English idioms have equivalents in the Russian language (for example, "take the bull by the horn" literally translates as "to take the bull by the horns" and has the same meaning), and their importance is clear, yet many English idioms have no equivalents in the Russian language. Sometimes it is not difficult to guess the meaning of the phrase, while in Russian the same idea, most likely, would have been expressed differently. For example, the English phrase "get up on the wrong side of bed" literally means "to stand on the wrong side of the bed", and is not difficult to understand its meaning, using the analogy of Russian idiom "to get up on the wrong foot". However, such cases are rather the exceptions, and, as it has already mentioned that most English idioms and phraseological units not literally disassemble. For example, without knowing in advance what the phrase "wear more than one hat", can be trapped, having heard it in speech or seeing the letter, and started to translate it literally - "wear more than one hat", while it actually means "to perform several duties."
Some idioms are used mainly in colloquial speech, and are not typical of written language or formal situations. In addition, despite the fact that the vast majority of idioms are used in all varieties of English in all English-speaking countries, however, there are some idioms that are inherent in one or another variant of English. As the two largest varieties of English are British and American, in cases, when an idiom is used only in one of these language options, and not characteristic of the other, it will be marked with the appropriate icon (American or British flag).

In English, as in any other language, there are idioms, the expressions that should not be taken literally. The idiom is peculiar only to the given language stable expression whose value is not determined by the meaning of its constituent words taken individually. Due to the fact that the idiom cannot be translated literally (defeats the purpose), there are often difficulties of translation and understanding. At the same time, these idioms give the language a bright emotional colouring. The various stable expressions are used in spoken and written language, so they should be remembered. Often grammatical meanings of idioms do not meet the standards of the modern language, are grammatical archaisms. An example of such expressions in Russian: “piece of cake”, “twiddle”, “mess around”, “point of view” and others.

3. The meaning of English idioms

In our work, we have studied English idioms, which are part of the body, animals, colours, weather. We have examined their meanings in the Russian language. Our work presents the analysis of 50 idioms and expressions. And now I want to introduce to your attention the most interesting ones.

3.1. Animal idioms

Many of the original English idioms are connected with animals. The literal translation of these expressions will confuse us, so we need to remember the whole expression. We offer to loot through the most popular idioms:

1. It rains cats and dogs.

Literal translation: идет дождь с кошками и собаками.

Meaning: to pour as from a bucket.

There is much speculation about the origin of this idiom. It is hard to believe in some of them, others, perhaps, are invented by fans of colorful stories, I offer you a third option. In the distant 1500 years, when modern architecture was still very far away, the roofs of houses were covered with a thick layer of straw, which made them particularly attractive place for cats, dogs and other small animals (probably due to the fact that this material retains heat better). During heavy rains, the animals sometimes slipped and fell down, and the British began to associate heavy rain with falling cats and dogs, hence the expression it's raining cats and dogs. For example: I will stay at home! The weather is terrible! Just look, it's raining cats and dogs. Translation: I stay at home! The weather is disgusting! Look, it's raining.

2. Cock-and-bull story.

Literal translation: история петуха и быка.

When you hear "cock-and-bull story", it does not mean that it was created by a chicken and a bull. This expression suggests that a story is too far-fetched.
For example: It is a cock-and-bull story, I don't believe a single word.

3. Dead duck.

Literal translation: мертвая утка.

If Your companion is called any occupation “dead duck”, does not mean that it is associated with a tragic event. In Russian language this expression is translated as "dead issue". For example: Don't even waste your time; it's a dead duck.

4. Rabbit’s foot.

Literal translation: нога кролика.

Meaning is a good luck charm.

Don't be alarmed if someone promised you a Birthday present “rabbit's foot”. This means that your friend just wants you to choose a talisman for good luck.
For example: Do you possess something that is a rabbit's foot for you?

5. Monkey’s business.

Literal translation: дело обезьяны.

Do not look for the definition of “monkey business” in the economic dictionary. It means to call to waste your time doing unnecessary work.
For example: Stop doing monkey’s business and start doing your homework!

6. To fox.

Literal translation: лиса.

Meaning: to cheat, to deceive, to trace around your finger, confuse.
For example: If we go round the back, that'll fox them.

3.2. Weather idioms

1. It never rains but it pours.

Literal translation: никогда не идет дождь, но оно льет.

This expression means that when something bad happens, it will definitely be followed by other bad events. In the Russian language you can find a lot of similar-value expressions, e.g., "trouble has come-open the gates", "trouble comes in threes ", "the rain has begun — expect rain", "first step is the hardest" — that's how mighty Russian language!

I've had a terrible day. I was late for my work, lost the key, quarreled with the girlfriend. It never rains but it pours! — I had a horrible day. I was late for work, lost my keys, got in a fight with a friend. Trouble comes in threes!

2. Take a rain check.

Literal translation: проверь дождь.

It means to postpone an event to a later date.

For example, I'm so tired that I cannot go to the movies today. I'll ask for taking a rain check — I was so tired that I can't go today to the movies.

3. Every cloud has a silver lining.

Literal translation: у каждого облака есть серебряная облицовка.

This expression means that after something bad must come good, and there is always hope, even in the worst situation. Look for analogues in the Russian language – "blessing in disguise", "there would be no happiness. Yes, the misfortune has helped".

Every cloud has a silver lining – when I got ill and was near to death I met you at the hospital and now I'm the happier man in the world.

4. To have your head in the clouds.

Literal translation: иметь голову в облаках.

"In the clouds" means not in touch with reality – so they say about those ideas and thoughts, which can hardly be called reasonable or practical.

For example, I don't know what to think about Mary — she has her head in the clouds. It stands for happiness.

5. Under a cloud.

Literal translation: под облаком.

This expression means "to be under suspicion". In other words, if someone accuse of committing bad acts, we can use this idiom. I heard the company she worked at was under a cloud of fraud.

6. On cloud nine

Literal translation: на девятом небе.

This expression means that the English on the ninth cloud and we are in seventh heaven – there is no need to say that it is only about very happy people.

For example, they are going to marry next week and feel themselves on cloud nine.

7. Storm in a teacup.

Literal translation: шторм в чашке.

The Russian equivalent "storm in a teacup" means to create a big fuss out of something insignificant, i.e., "make mountains out of molehills".

For example, “Don't make a storm in a teacup – this small cut can't be dangerous - don't make mountains out of molehills – this small cut could be dangerous”.

8. The calm before the storm.

Literal translation: тишина перед бурей.

The idiom “the calm before the storm” means the calm period before a period of great activity. For example, “She sat down with a book and a cup of tea enjoying the calm before the storm when the children would wake up”.

9. Sail close to the wind

Literal translation: плыть к ветру.

This idiom means "behave on the verge of what is permitted, or to be on the verge of crime, to walk on the edge of a precipice".

For example, “Be careful! You sail close to the wind making friends with this terrible man – Be careful! You're walking on the edge of the abyss, communicating with that terrible man.

10. to get wind of

Literal translation: получать ветерю

It means to find out something, usually by accident, or learn from a confidential source, you can say "attack the track".

For example, If the police get wind of the evidence of the crime, committed by you, you'll be taken to prison if the police get evidence of the crime committed you, you will go to jail.

11. To be under the weather.

Literal translation: быть под погодой.

This idiom means to be ill, to feel ill.

For example, Sorry, I cannot come today; I am feeling under the weather and would rather stay in bed. Sorry, I can't come, I'm not well, and I'd rather stay in bed.

3.3. Body idioms

The names of the body parts are used by the English in conversation not only when they discuss health or anyone else's appearance, but also idioms are used in some abstract, non-physical states such as moods, characteristics, relationships between people.

  1. Give / get the cold shoulder.

Literal translation: давать холодное плечо.

In order to understand the origin of this idiom, we have to understand the intricacies of cooking. In English, the word shoulder in addition to the usual "shoulder", also has another translation is "shoulder meat carcasses". Now imagine that in England welcome the guests were usually served hot, freshly prepared dish. How then welcomed uninvited guests? The British, apparently, could not afford to leave them very hungry, so they gave them cold shoulder of cold mutton.

Meaning: cold, indifferent attitude.

For example: I really needed his advice, but he has given me the cold shoulder.

2. To live from hand to mouth.

Meaning: to barely make ends meet; living on handouts.

During the great depression and other economically unstable years, people often do not know when the next time they get a full meal. That's why literally everything edible that came in immediately went in my mouth, from hand to mouth. As you can see, the negative painting of this expression is preserved in our days.
For example: They lived from hand to mouth, never knowing when the next meal was coming.

  1. Let your hair down.

Literal translation: let your hair fall.

Meaning: to relax, behave naturally.

I think that this idiom is especially close to girls, and here's why. In the 17th century women wore a variety of hairstyles, collecting and killing the hair. In the evening, in a calm and relaxed atmosphere, the usual procedure was blooming and combing hair. Now the expression let your hair down was used in a slightly different meaning.
For example: I had extremely hard day at work and need to let my hair down now.

  1. Wear one's heart on one's sleeve.

Literal translation: to wear your heart on your sleeve.

Meaning: not be able to contain the emotions; the soul wide open.
It is likely that this expression is reflected in the medieval tradition of knightly tournaments. It is believed that the knights showed their devotion to the lady of the heart, knotting the ribbon, presented to her sleeve. Thus, they literally "wear your heart on your sleeve". Today we use this idiom when talking about a person who openly shows his emotions.
For example: She never hides her emotions, one look at her and you know how she feels. She really wears her heart on her sleeve.

5. To badmouth.

Literal translation: плохой рот.

Meaning: to insult, to humiliate.

In American slang means "to insult, to humiliate someone; upset someone or to defame, to discredit someone or something" or the English equivalent – to rubbish. This expression is borrowed from the slang of the natives of Africa and the Caribbean and represents a spell, a curse.

For example, He was her bitter enemy and never missed a chance to badmouth her. He was her bitter enemy and never missed an opportunity to do stuff, to humiliate her.

  1. All fingers and thumbs.

Literal translation: все пальцы

Meaning: awkward, clumsy

People can't coordinate their movements due to strong excitement or stress.
For example: When the time came to open the Christmas presents Peter couldn't unwrap his fast enough.
He was all his fingers and thumbs.

  1. Apple of someone’s eye.

Literal translation: яблоко глаза.

It means something of value, dear.

The pupil or "the Apple of his eye". A student-favorite in high school was called the apple (Apple). Later the word became an expression apple of someone's eye – the pupil, to lose which is meant to be blind. The term is often used when the loss of something valuable, expensive.

For example: Maxim was the apple of his mother's eye.

  1. To cross one's fingers.

  2. Literal translation: скрестить пальцы.

Meaning of this idiom: "to hurt", to worry about anyone (in the Russian language Keep our fingers crossed).

This expression means crossing the middle finger with the index. Man, crossing fingers this way, they form the likeness of the cross which repels evil. We often keep our fingers crossed before the exam or before an important event.

For example: Good luck tomorrow! I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for you. Good luck tomorrow! I cross my fingers for luck.

3.4. Colour idioms

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Very interesting idioms, which include the name of the colour. The symbolism of flowers in many languages, especially European, similar, and partly it facilitates their understanding.

1. White (coffee, tea).

Literal translation: белое кофе, белый чай.

Actually, this idiom means tea, coffee with milk.

For example: I prefer to drink white coffee in the morning.

A white lie.

Literal translation: белая ложь.

Meaning: a clean lie.

For example: I know it was white lie.

To show a white feather.

Literal translation: показывать белое оперенье.

Meaning: to show fear, be afraid.

For example: Young soldier showed a white feather.

  1. Purple

To be born in purple.

Value: the color purple is considered a Royal colour, so this expression means to be born in a noble family, i.e. to have noble origins.

For example: The princess was born in purple.

3. Black

Black look.

Literal translation: черный взгляд.

What is a black look? Imagine the situation in which you gave someone a "black look". In Russian we say dark, menacing glare.

For example: She has black look.

Black sheep.

Literal translation: черная овца.

Who is a black sheep? We say black sheep, referring to a bad person.

Meaning: a bad person.

For example: I feel myself a black sheep.

To be in the black

Literal translation: быть в черном.

Meaning: to be in the black, not to have debts/

For example: From the very beginning our company was in the black.

To be in the red

The literal translation: быть в красном.

The value: to be in financial difficulty

For example: Being in the red I had to put off the purchase of a car.
Translation: I had to postpone buying a car because of problems with finances.
The origin of these two idioms is directly related to the use of red and black ink in the balance sheet. Counting debts and revenues of its clients, the accountant highlighted in red first, leaving in black the second. Thus, red colour and in particular the expression to be in the black has become associated with a good financial standing or have debts, while to be in the red meant the opposite.

3. Red

To see red.

Literal translation: увидеть красное.

It is one of the most common idioms.

Significance: it is believed, however erroneously, that, when the bull sees red, he becomes very angry, aggressive. This is a "feature" of behavior bull people quickly adopted into the language to describe the degree of anger of other people.
For example: It really makes me see red when I see many trees are thoughtlessly cut down by people.

To put out the red carpet.

Literal translation: постелить красный ковер.

Perhaps this idiom will be familiar to modern students who like to watch the biographies of rich and famous people who usually pose on the red carpet.
Meaning: this expression is used in a figurative sense. For example, if the student has become the winner of the competition, the teacher can playfully suggest "To put out the red carpet". A student traveling to my parents for the holidays, you can also use this phrase. In such situations, the idiom means to welcome.

A red letter day.

Literal translation: красный день.

The red color for Europeans of the dual is the danger, the threat and simultaneously a celebration. Red letter day is not only the reality of the Soviet era.
Value: red letter day, a holiday.

For example: It's a red letter day tomorrow in the company. It's our fiftieth birthday!
Translation: Tomorrow is red letter day in our company. Our fiftieth birthday!

5. Blue

To feel blue, to look blue

Literal translation: чувствовать себя синим, выглядеть синим.

Meaning: to be sad, sad.

For example, when a person says: "I am feeling blue" he just wants to say that he's sad. Also, when about the person speak: "He is as blue as the devil" mean that he is very gloomy, sullen.

The name of the Blues in music and it means a sad, sad tune.
The expression True blue has historically been used for the characterization of loyal, devoted member of the conservative party in the UK. Gradually limited the use of part of everyday language. Now it is used for the description of any person, referring his dedication. This idiom means real, dedicated people.

Value: a Real, dedicated people.

For example: He is a true blue teacher.

It means he's dedicated to his job, master.

The origin of the idiom "Out of the blue" is extremely interesting, how interesting and unexpected her translation.

Meaning: suddenly, completely unexpectedly, as a bolt from the blue.

For example: And out of the blue he asked me about my family.

This idiom is a very literary expression, and in colloquial speech is often substituted for A or suddenly all of a sudden.

A blue-eyed boy.

Literal translation: голубоглазый мальчик.

Meaning: a pet.

For example, say to someone's favourite. He's the Director's blue-eyed boy!

6. Brown

To be in a brown study.

Literal translation: быть в коричневой учебе.

It means to think deeply.

Currently the idiom is almost never used in speech that the youth wouldn't recognize her. However, in the literature, in the speech of older generation it still sounds.
For example: After reading this book I was in a brown study.

7. Green

The number of idioms with this color we can say that the English are very fond of everything green. Quote from the tragedy of William Shakespeare's "Othello". "Jealousy, the green-eyed monster..."

Literal translation: green-eyed monster...

Meaning: in English, the jealousy, envy are often just green. In Russian, blue and black envy.

For example: My neighbor is the green-eyed monster.

Green around the gills.

Literally translation: зеленый вокруг решетки.

Meaning: If you say something like that, you look pale.

For example: a student is suddenly green about the gills.

To have green fingers.

Literal translation: иметь зеленые пальцы.

Meaning: it turns out that Golden hand in English, and have green fingers? This usually indicates a good gardener, the man in the garden is growing.
For example: Alevtina Semyonovna has green fingers. She is a good gardener.

Green as grass.

Literal translation: зеленая трава.

This idiom is used when we want to indicate someone's inexperience.

For example: Young driver was green as grass. It means that the young driver was inexperienced.

Нave got the green light.

Literal translation: иметь зеленый цвет

Meaning: to have permission.

For example: Finally we have got the green light and our parents will buy us a dog. It means that finally, our parents allowed us to buy a dog.

8. Grey

A grey area.

Literal translation: серое пространство.

Meaning: something, something not so easy to define and therefore it is difficult to deal with.

For example: The law concerning e-mail is still a grey area in some countries.

Idioms about flowers

Perhaps there is no person who would not like flowers. We rejoice, receiving bouquets as a gift, often stop at the shop Windows, admiring the bunches of fresh cut flowers. Connected with them a sense of celebration, of joy, of life blossoming. About this attitude to the flowers "speak" and English idioms.

1.A bed of roses.

Literal translation: клумба роз

Meaning: happy, carefree life.

Learning that someone you know is at home sleeping on such a bed, do not take this particular foppery. So talk about happy and carefree life, devoid of any problems.
For example:My childhood had been a real bed of roses before I became a teenager and started to live my own life.

2. A welcome as the flowers in May.

Literal translation: добро пожаловать как цветочки в мае.

Meaning: the arrival of something long awaited, joyful. After a long winter comes the long-awaited spring. In May, when it becomes quite warm, nature presents the top gift - variety flowers. Therefore, the expression is as welcome as the flowers in may tells of the coming of something long-awaited, joyful.

For example: Meeting with all my classmates was as the flowers in May since we haven't seen each other for 10 years. I was very glad the meeting with your classmates, because we haven't seen for 10 years.

3. We gild the lily.

Literal translation: мы украшаем лилию.

Meaning: to decorate something that doesn't require decoration.


Talking about the origin of idioms is endless, finding increasingly interesting and funny stories. Our main objective was to show that expressions which at first glance there is no logic, miraculously acquire it, if you look at them more closely. This, perhaps, is one of the secrets of learning any foreign language is to ask yourself the question "why?" and try to find the answer. I hope that some stories will help you memorize and master favourite idioms.

After all, the possession of at least one foreign language is a necessity. Often the level of English speaking is characterized by the use in speech of English idioms, as they are unparalleled in their native language. On the one hand idioms reinforce the uniqueness and individuality of the language, but in the other hand, the use of idioms complicates the understanding and translation from a foreign language. But still, the knowledge and use of idioms in speech indicates a high level of foreign ownership, decorates it, making it shaped.

The result of our research is that there are a lot of idioms in the English language. They make our speech more beautiful, they enrich our speech but at the same time their using demands the comprehension of the idioms. It is a very hard work to study idioms. For example, if we research only body idioms, it will be turned out that they also divide into several parts: head idioms, leg idioms, even toe idioms. We made up Appendix with Body Idioms.

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The list of used literature

1. Russian-English dictionary of idiomatic expressions/ 2009.

2. The English language at school, №1, 2, 4 /magazines, 2012.

3. Hoad, T. F. The concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etimology / T. F. Hoad // Oxford University Press. – 2012.

4. Mulin, J. K. Collins English Dictionary / J. K. Mulin, L. F. Nolling // Oxford University Press. – 2008.

5. http://www.narod.ru/prastic/idioms.htm - The article about idioms, 2012


Body Idioms


By the skin of one’s teeth – с трудом, едва

To get under smb.’s skin – надоедать, раздражать

To skin smb. alive – сурово наказать


To split hairs – придираться к мелочам

To get into smb.’s hair – докучать, раздражать

To let one’s hair down – вести себя непринужденно

To make smb.’s hair stand on end – испугать, внушить ужас


To risk one’s neck – сильно рисковать

By a neck – еле-еле, едва

Neck and neck – вровень

To breathe down smb’s neck – идти по следу, охотиться, преследовать


Dead on one’s feet – смертельно уставший

To keep one’s feet on the ground – быть реалистом

To land in both feet – легко отделаться, выбраться из беды, легко выйти из сложной ситуации

To wait on smb hand and foot – помогать кому-либо во всем

To kiss the hare’s foot – опаздывать

To get off on the wrong foot – допустить ошибку в начале дела

To set foot – ступать, побывать

On foot – пешком

To get one’s feet wet – набраться опыта

To drag one’s feet – плестись, волочить ноги

To get\have cold feet – потеряться, растеряться

To put one’s best foot forward – стараться произвести хорошее впечатление

To have one’s foot in the grave -  быть на пороге смерти

To put one’s foot down – настаивать на своем

Fast\quick on one’s feet – быть легким на подъем

To get a foot in the door – сделать первый шаг

Underfoot – в пути

To land on one’s feet – избавиться от неприятностей

To put one’s foot into one’s mouth – сказать что-то неуместное или обидное


To be on one’s last legs – приходить в упадок


To give smb. a cold shoulder – вести себя недружелюбно

To put one’s shoulder to the wheel – работать не покладая рук

To rub shoulders – общаться, контактировать

Straight from the shoulder – откровенно, напрямую

To be head and shoulders above smb. – быть на порядок лучше


To step on smb.'s toes – оскорбить, задеть

Back-idioms Behind smb’s back – тайно

To break one’s back – усердно трудиться

To get one’s back up – вознегодовать, заартачиться

To scratch smb’s back – оказать услугу

To have one’s back against the wall -  быть в безвыходном положении

To get off smb’s back – оставить в покое

To break the back of a job – сделать большую часть работы

To put some back into one’s work – приложить физическую силу

To have the backbone – иметь смелость


To have a frog in one’s throat – охрипнуть

To ram smth. down smb.’s throat – всучить, силой заставить принять

To jump down smb.’s throat – критиковать

To have a lump in one’s throat – быть переполненным эмоциями.

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Дата добавления 16.02.2016
Раздел Иностранные языки
Подраздел Другие методич. материалы
Номер материала ДВ-461027
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