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RiRi

Idioms Explained

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RiRi

Who in here struggles understanding, idioms/slang terms? I know I do, it's always been something I've struggled with. I think it can be an autistic trait, just like how taking things literally can be. :) I thought it'd be a great idea to start a thread where we can all write down our experiences with idioms, idioms we used to not know/understand the meaning of, but then learned, how we learned them, their definitions, etc. :) 

Edited by Makelets

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Gone away

As a child I really struggled with idioms. My mother used quite a few. Being told they were just sayings did not help at all.

She would often say 'theres no point crying over spilt milk' - straight away I would want to know where the spillage was, who spilt it, is there any left ? etc. Sometimes I would get cross because she was talking about spilt milk again - It took a long time before I understood it mean't there's no point being upset over whats in the past.

Looking for a needle in a haystack - knitting needle or sewing needle, where is the haystack, why is a needle in it? etc.

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush - I still don't know

People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones - struggled with this one

Horses for courses - Once understood, I love this and use it alot. It means the right / most appropriate tool or item for the job in hand

You've got a chip on your shoulder - headmasters would say this and I would look at my shoulder wondering if they meant potato or wood chip - I think it means a person has a problem or excess emotional baggage but think its a stupid insulting idiom

A stitch in time saves nine - I finally got this in adulthood - but just relate it to repairing clothes early before the rip gets worse etc.

Other kids understood all these idioms but even when they explained I still never understood.

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Primeape

Ive heard the one worker at the day centre say hes got a chip on his shoulder :lol: oh and he literally puts a chip on his shoulder lol

i dont understand the glass house one tbh ive heard it used but i just said why would they throw stones by glass houses

and ive never heard of A bird in the hand is worth two in a bush dont understand that 

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Nesf

Now, as an adult, I know most of the most common idioms, and what they mean. As a child, at some point I learned that when someone said something that doesn't make sense, then it was probably an expression and not real, but I didn't automatically know what the expression meant and was inclined to misinterpret or just not understand. I wasn't always able to see the connection between one thing and another, the expressions seemed so random. For example, when I first heard "wear your heart on your sleeve" (as an adult) I had no idea what this meant, and thought that the person had sewn a heart (not a real one, that would be too ridiculous) onto their sleeve. I had the idea that it was trying to communicate something else, but I didn't know what. As a child, if I heard something that didn't sound too surreal or far-fetched like "no good crying over spilled milk" then I may well have taken it literally, though I can't think of any specific incidences from childhood right now.

Foreign languages have all sorts of strange expressions and idioms. For example, there is one here, to "lift the table" means to clear the table, but when I first heard it, I took it literally and thought that they wanted to move the table. I thought it was strange that they wanted to lift the table, but I never imagined that it might mean something different. When learning foreign languages, I treat these as just another vocabulary item to be learned.

I think that NTs also often have some difficulty with understanding idioms, too. My students often come across them, and they often don't understand what they mean and I have to explain them. I think that the understanding of idioms and slang is often a cultural thing, that the idioms/slang become part of the culture and part of the language. We don't always understand them when we first hear them, because we aren't able to make the connection between one thing and another, or imagine what they might mean. For me, the greatest difficulty is not so much with idioms and expressions, because I can look them up on the internet if I don't understand them, but with metaphors or expressions common only to one author. This is why I don't like poetry very much and have always had difficulty with interpreting poetry and literature. Another thing I struggle with is GIF, which show a picture and a caption. I often don't see the connection between the picture, the caption and the overall context.

I didn't know what "horses for courses" meant until now.

8 hours ago, Going home said:

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

This means that it is better to stick with something you have got rather than rely on something you might have in the future, when it is not certain you will have it. For example, if you're at the casino playing cards and you win 100 dollars, it is better to keep that 100 dollars that you know you have and is yours, than to gamble that 100 dollars in the hope of winning 200. A bird that you have in your hand is something that you know you have, it's certain. You know that you have the 100 dollars already. If there are 2 birds in the bush, you don't have them because you have to catch them and it's not certain that you will manage to do that, just as it's not certain that you will win the 200 dollars if you gamble.

EDIT: Paradoxically, I can often see things in other people's words that other people don't see or don't notice, things like the fact that "there is no point in sharpening your pencil" is actually a paradox that doesn't make any sense whatsoever!

Edited by Nesf

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Pinky and his brain
5 hours ago, DebzMata08 said:

Ive heard the one worker at the day centre say hes got a chip on his shoulder :lol: oh and he literally puts a chip on his shoulder lol

i dont understand the glass house one tbh ive heard it used but i just said why would they throw stones by glass houses

and ive never heard of A bird in the hand is worth two in a bush dont understand that 

"Don't throw stones, when you live in a glass house"

It means, don't have double standards.

Or if you write it in another way, "Don't attack someone for something you do yourself" / "Don't throw stones after people, if you cannot handle it when they throw them back".

The "stone" is the attack, and the "glass house" is your own vulnerability in whatever the subject is.

 

I personally have bigger problems with slang words, because they can mean things, that have nothing to do with what the word indicates. Slang in foreign languages can be totally impossible to figure out, unless you Google it. Same thing goes for acronyms.

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RiRi

I'm no longer a kid, but I still struggle with idioms. I can't figure them out myself, I have either go on urban dictionary or if I want to be certain, I have to ask someone. I used to not know what it mean "when pigs fly" I think it means "never going to happen" like pigs will fly first before whatever it is that is being compared to will happen. :lol: Funny idiom. 

Edited by Makelets

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Gone away

@Makelets When someone would say something that was hard to believe, the other would look to the sky and say 'there's a flying pig over there' or 'did you see that flying pig' ? (or something similar).   Who thinks of these things?! 

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RiRi

"Ignorance is bliss" I used to not know this one until a couple of years ago. I had forgotten what it meant. I think I had been remembering it as ignorance is blindness, like if you don't know about something then you wouldn't know why it's the way it is. But I've just searched it and I think it means that sometimes it's better not knowing, as you don't worry about it/if you don't know something then you don't worry about it. Does anyone know whether in this idiom, "bliss" short for blindness? 

Edit: I forgot to write that I agree. Sometimes not knowing is better than knowing.

Edited by Makelets

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Gone away
3 hours ago, Makelets said:

Does anyone know whether in this idiom, "bliss" short for blindness? 

I've always took 'bliss' to mean a state of eurhoria ....  quietly happy in onself etc.

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