Guess the Idiom
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Question 1 of 18
Gary Martin at The Phrase Finder has the British phrase third time lucky derived from the earlier “proverbial” luck of the third adventure, traced in print back to 1839. As to the reason for the luck, the theory of it referring to an English law freeing a condemned man after three failed attempts at hanging is debunked. He concludes:
It seems more likely that it is just a folk belief that, having had setbacks, we ought to persevere and not give up. This is enshrined in the phrase ‘try, try and try again’. Three seems to be the right number of times to try. Two isn’t enough but four is too many. Think of every time you’ve seen a drama in which a character tries to unlock a door with an set of unfamiliar keys. The first key fails, the second key fails – it is always the third that works.
And on its relatonship to the American version, third time’s the charm:
This may be an variant of the earlier ‘third time lucky’ or it may have arisen independently in the USA.
A citation is given of this phrase from 1912.Incorrect
Question 2 of 18
at the last possible moment.
Usage notes: A nick was a mark on a stick which was used in the past to measure time.
For example: We got there just in the nick of time. A minute later and they would have left.Incorrect
Question 3 of 18
Etymology: based on the idea of pointing a gun at someone to make them do somethingIncorrect
Question 4 of 18
Joe Cool (AKA Snoopy) was indeed cool, calm and collected.Incorrect
Question 5 of 18
M. A. Radford’s The Encyclopedia of Superstitions has it that:
“In the seventeenth century, one or two of the bride-favours were always blue. These were knots of coloured ribbons loosely stitched on to the wedding gown, which were plucked off by the guests at the wedding feast, and worn as luck-bringers in the young men’s hats.”
The expression was recorded in 1717 by the English poet and diplomat, Matthew Prior. In his humourous poem, Alma; or, The Progress of the Mind he includes:
“So to the priest their case they tell: He ties the knot.”
Francis Grose, in his 1811 edition of The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue listed the ‘knot tied with the tongue’ with specific reference to marriage.
“He has tied a knot with his tongue, that he cannot untie with his teeth: i.e. he is married.”Incorrect
Question 6 of 18
Origin of this phrase comes from a Happy Days episode where the Fonz jumped a shark on waterskis. Thus was labeled the lowest point of the show.
It is the precise moment when you know a program, band, actor, politician, or other public figure has taken a turn for the worse, gone downhill, become irreversibly bad, is nonredeemable, etc.; the moment you realize decay has set in.Incorrect
Question 7 of 18
Question 8 of 18
Origin: The phrase comes from 18th-19th century English Naval terminology. The original phrase was ” three Sheets in the wind” and referred to the erratic behavior of a ship that has lost control of all of its sails.
In nautical terminology sheets are the ropes that adjust the position of the sails relative to the wind.
The speed and direction of a sailing ship is controlled by the number of sails raised on each mast, the angle of the sails to the wind (trim of the sails), and the position of the rudder. If the sheets used to control the sails are to break or are have been released, the sheet is said to be “in the wind”.Incorrect
Question 9 of 18
Meaning: A figure of speech, sometimes termed a rhetorical, or elocution, is a word or phrase that departs from straightforward, literal language. Figures of speech are often used and crafted for emphasis, freshness of expression, or clarity. However, clarity may also suffer from their use.
For example: “When I said I feel out of this world, it was just a figure of speech”.Incorrect
Question 10 of 18
Meaning: To distance yourself. For example, “Put clear blue water between yourself and your political rivals when voting.”Incorrect
Question 11 of 18
similar to someone who is better known than you are for their achievements or experience. For example, “Einstein didn’t do so well in school, so you’re in good company.”
similar to Keep good companyIncorrect
Question 12 of 18
Meaning: To cause. For example, “The marriage of my daughter will give rise to a great celebration.”Incorrect
Question 13 of 18
Meaning: Do it now. For example, “Regarding the job opportunity, it’s now or never.”Incorrect
Question 14 of 18
Origin of Bob’s your Uncle
“Bob’s your Uncle” is a way of saying “you’re all set” or “you’ve got it made.” It’s a catch phrase dating back to 1887, when British Prime Minister Robert Cecil (a.k.a. Lord Salisbury) decided to appoint a certain Arthur Balfour to the prestigious and sensitive post of Chief Secretary for Ireland.
Not lost on the British public was the fact that Lord Salisbury just happened to be better known to Arthur Balfour as “Uncle Bob.” In the resulting furor over what was seen as an act of blatant nepotism, “Bob’s your uncle” became a popular sarcastic comment applied to any situation where the outcome was preordained by favoritism. As the scandal faded in public memory, the phrase lost its edge and became just a synonym for “no problem.”Incorrect
Question 15 of 18
to understand the relationship between different ideas or experiences. For example, “It took years of hard work to connect the dots between the murder and the suspect.”Etymology: from a children’s activity in which a picture can be seen when you draw lines to connect numbered dots (= small, round marks)Incorrect
Question 16 of 18
Meaning: To make the final decision. For example, “When it comes to how my music is recorded, I call the shots.”
There’s a number of results in Google Books before 1967, possibly back to 1917, but the earliest I could confirm is this literal use from 1943 in The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy by Bell Irvin Wiley:
Occasionally the Yankees would interfere with culinary activities. In one instance during the Atlanta campaign Federal artillery opened on a group of Rebs as they were cooking their noon meal. One of the number was sent to a point of observation to call the shots so that the cooks could lie down after each salvo until the shells passed over.
Here, a soldier is literally calling out that shots are coming to warn the others.Incorrect
Question 17 of 18
Meaning: to gain control. For example, “He cornered the market in silver and owns over fifty percent!”
corner the market” (The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.)
Idioms & Phrases
corner the market
Buy all or most of a commodity or stock so that its price goes up. For example, In a famous maneuver the Hunt brothers cornered the market in silver . This idiom uses corner in the sense of “drive would-be buyers into a corner.” [Early 1800s]
So it seems unlikely that “corner the market” was a term used in Ancient Greece or anywhere else, given that the words “corner” and “market” came into being 1,000 years later. The first apparent record of them being used together as an idiom, at least as far as the etymology guys are concerned, is in the 1800’s, when the mercantile economy began to take hold. That makes sense, because in the prior economies, which consisted largely of barter and what you could grow for yourself, there would seem to have been scant opportunity to “corner” a market, at least insofar as we think of “market” today. The King, of course, had a “corner” on everything, but that seems a stretch to have come into common parlance.Incorrect
Question 18 of 18
To create a new phrase.
‘To coin a phrase’ is now rarely used with its original ‘invent a new phrase’ meaning but is almost always used ironically to introduce a banal or clichéd sentiment. This usage began in the mid 20th century; for example, in Francis Brett Young’s novel Mr. Lucton’s Freedom, 1940:
“It takes all sorts to make a world, to coin a phrase.”
Coining, in the sense of creating, derives from the coining of money by stamping metal with a die. Coins – also variously spelled coynes, coigns, coignes or quoins – were the blank, usually circular, disks from which money was minted. This usage derived from an earlier 14th century meaning of coin, which meant wedge. The wedge-shaped dies which were used to stamp the blanks were called coins and the metal blanks and the subsequent ‘coined’ money took their name from them.
Coining later began to be associated with inventiveness in language. In the 16th century the ‘coining’ of words and phrases was often referred to. By that time the monetary coinage was often debased or counterfeit and the coining of words was often associated with spurious linguistic inventions; for example, in George Puttenham’s The arte of English poesie, 1589:
“Young schollers not halfe well studied… will seeme to coigne fine wordes out of the Latin.”
Shakespeare, the greatest coiner of them all, also referred to the coining of language in Coriolanus, 1607:
“So shall my Lungs Coine words till their decay.”Incorrect