Each month, Let’s Talk will focus on sayings that might sound funny or confusing to a new language learner. So if you have ever thought “What did they mean by that?” or “What are they trying to say?” this column is for you.
The cold weather has arrived. The pumpkins have been made into pie and holiday lights and decorations are everywhere. Many faiths celebrate winter holidays. Much of U.S. culture is based on Christianity, so you are likely to see Santa and other Christmas decorations in many places. The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas is often called “the gift-giving season.”
Here are four idioms – expressions in which the meanings of the words are not the same as the meaning of the saying – that one might hear used in connection with the holidays and gift giving.
Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth — Don’t find fault with something that has been given as a gift or done as a favor
“Although Maria did not like the sweater that her mother gave her for her birthday, she did not want to look a gift horse in the mouth.”
Gift of gab — The ability to speak easily and confidently
“Peter excelled at his job as a salesman because he has the gift of gab.”
Costs an arm and a leg — Something that is considered extremely expensive
“Baldina would like a new car, but it costs an arm and a leg.”
Good things come in small packages — Things that aren’t very big often make the best gifts.
“Claude gave his wife a little box with a necklace that held their children’s pictures. Sometimes good things come in small packages.”
Claudia Jakubowski has her Masters Degree in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).