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Deep Six

Sailors seem -- to those of us on land -- to lead exciting, even mysterious lives. Many things are different at sea. Even the language is different.

Simple words like "right" and "left" are not the same. On a ship, "right" is "starboard." And "left" is "port."



  


Monkey Expressions

Monkeys are very similar to us in many ways. Most have ten fingers and ten toes, and brains much like ours. We enjoy watching them because they often act like us. In fact, Charles Darwin's theory of evolution says that monkeys and humans share a common ancestor.Songwriter William Gilbert, in the musical "Princess Ida", wrote:"Darwinian man, though well-behaved, at best is only a monkey shaved."



  


Hold Your Horses!

 Today, we tell about "horse" expressions.  In the past, many people depended on horses for transportation, farming and other kinds of work.  A lot of people still like to ride horses.  And, horse racing is also popular.  So it is not surprising that Americans still use expressions about the animals.Long ago, people who were rich or important rode horses that were very tall.  Today, if a girl acts like she is better than everyone else, you might say she should get off her high horse.



  


Proverbs About How to Live

Today we begin with two popular proverbs about staying healthy by eating good food: One is an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Another is you are what you eat.

Several proverbs about birds also give advice.  You may have heard this one:  The early bird catches the worm.  This means a person who gets up early, or acts quickly, has the best chance of success.



  


Fish Expressions

Americans use many expressions about fish and fishing. For example, if something sounds fishy, it may not be true. Sometimes I feel like a fish out of water when I go to a party and everyone but me is doing the latest dance. When I ask my friend if she likes my new dress, I would like her to say something nice. In other words, I am fishing for a compliment. You might tell someone to fish or cut bait if he repeatedly attempts to do something he is unable to do.



  


Hobsons Choice

One of these expressions is Hobsons choice.  It often is used to describe a difficult choice. But that is not what it really means. Its real meaning is to have no choice at all.The Hobson in the expression was Thomas Hobson. Mister Hobson owned a stable of horses in Cambridge, England.



  


When the Cats Away

Cats are the most popular pets among Americans. So it is not surprising that there are many expressions about cats. Some cats like to catch small birds, like canaries. If someone looks very proud or satisfied with himself, we say he looks like the cat that ate the canary. Sometimes, a cat likes to play with a small animal it catches.

  


Water Expressions

 Expressions about water are almost as common as water itself. But many of the expressions using water have unpleasant meanings. The expression to be in hot water is one of them. It is a very old expression. Hot water was used five-hundred years ago to mean being in trouble. One story says it got that meaning from the custom of throwing extremely hot water down on enemies attacking a castle.



  


Top Brass

The Italians have an old saying, "Il dolce far niente." The words mean it is sweet, or enjoyable, to do nothing.

On weekends and during holidays, many of us enjoy doing nothing. But most of the time we have to work. And, to keep our jobs, we must work hard. Our employer will not like it if we do nothing.

  


Brass Tacks

Our expression today is "getting down to brass tacks." It means to get serious about something, to get to the bottom of the situation. For example, a man may say, " I want to work for you. But how much will you pay me?" He is getting down to brass tacks. Or a woman may ask, "You say you love me. Will you marry me?" She, too, is getting down to brass tacks.



  


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