Seven interesting English sports expressions and idioms

footballerIt’s amazing how many English idioms and expressions come from sports. All of the idioms and expressions below originated as sporting terms but nowadays we can hear them used to talk about a wide range of situations related to life and work.

to reach the home straight
Meaning: to be nearly finished doing something
Example: Preparing for that presentation was hard work but we’ve reached the home straight now.

game plan
Meaning: plan of action
Example: What’s the game plan for dealing with the new client?

the ball is in your court
Meaning: it’s your responsibility / decision
Example: I’ve made my contribution to the group so the ball is in your court now.

get the ball rolling
Meaning: to start a process
Example: Let’s get the ball rolling on this project and start right away.

heavy hitter / big hitter
Meaning: an important person
Example: He’s a really big hitter in the film industry.

below the belt
Meaning: unfair
Example: That comment was really below the belt.

on the ball
Meaning: up-to-date and aware of what is going on
Example: She’s really on the ball about the latest technology.

throw in the towel
Meaning: to give up / to quit
Example: I couldn’t stand my job anymore so I threw in the towel and decided to work for myself.

Next week, we’ll look at food expressions. In the meantime, can you think of any more sports idioms?

Today’s image is by Michal Zacharzewski.

11th Friday Fun Quiz – Test your vocabulary!

question_signIt’s been a slightly different week to usual here at the World of Words. We’ve seen some great expressions from the news, had some tips for visual learners and seen seven great ‘catch’ expressions.

Next week, we’ll have some tips for┬ákinaesthetic┬álearners and expressions with ‘get’. I wonder what the news will have in store for us, too.

Before the weekend, as usual, it’s time to test your vocabulary with the eleventh Wil’s World of Words Friday Fun Quiz.

Have a great weekend and I’ll see you again on Monday!

To 'eat yourself silly' means:





A 'coaster' is:





A 'sweet tooth' is:





A 'tea cosy' is:





To 'catch someone red-handed' means:





A 'big hitter' is:







Today’s image is by Ivan Vicencio.

Strike Gold

clapboardThere was some really interesting expressions in this article about Quentin Tarantino’s new movie on the BBC News website. I love his films so I’ll definitely go and see this one even though the reviews of it haven’t been very positive. The title of the film is also interesting because the second word ‘Basterds’ is spelt wrong. The correct spelling is ‘bastards’ and although the director has said that the title is deliberately spelt wrong, he hasn’t said why.

A ‘bastard‘ is a child born to parents who aren’t married but the word is often used as an expression to describe an unpleasant person.

The first interesting expression in this article is in the title:

Tarantino strikes box office gold

To ‘strike gold‘ is similar to ‘strike it lucky‘ in that it means to be very successful and in this situation it means to make a lot of money through that success. A ‘box office‘ is where you buy tickets for a movie, concert or play so to ‘strike box office gold‘ means to make a lot of money through ticket sales.

The next interesting expressions is in the third paragraph where it is mentioned that the film ‘beat the mark‘ set by the director’s earlier films. In this situation, to ‘beat the mark‘ means to increase the standard or level.

A similar expression we use sometimes is ‘benchmark‘ meaning the level or standard against which we can compare other things. We could say that this opening weekend has set a new benchmark for Tarantino.

There’s another interesting word slightly later in the article where Harvey and Bob Weinstein are described as ‘movie moguls‘. When we use the word ‘mogul‘ we mean a person who is important because he or she is wealthy or powerful.

It is mentioned in the next paragraph that they were ‘behind a string of big hitters‘. By ‘big hitter‘ we mean a person or thing which is very important. In this case, the films were ‘big hitters‘ because they were very successful. To be ‘behind‘ these films means they were responsible for creating them and a ‘string‘ just means a ‘series‘.

Here are some other words related to the movie industry:

  • blockbuster: very successful and popular movie
  • hit: successful movie, song or album
  • flop: a movie which doesn’t do as well as expected

What’s the best movie you’ve seen recently?
Today’s photo is by Bart Groenhuizen.