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Posts Tagged ‘origin’

English Idiom of the Day – Tip of the Iceberg

Thursday, February 24, 2011 @ 01:02 PM
posted by Jo

Tip of the Iceberg

If something is said to be 'the tip of the iceberg' it means that something is only a small part of a much bigger problem.   The 'tip of the iceberg' is the part of a problem that can be easily observed, but not the rest of it, which is hidden.

Example: The problems that you see here now are just the tip of the iceberg. There are numerous disasters waiting to happen.

Origin:  This idiom comes from the fact that only the tip of an iceberg can be seen and the rest of the iceberg, which is much larger, is underneath the water and cannot be seen.

English Idiom of the Day – Cat got your tongue?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011 @ 09:02 AM
posted by Jo

Cat got your tongue?

If someone asks if the cat has got your tongue, they want to know why you are not speaking when they think you should.  It is was used most commonly when addressing a child who refused to answer a parent's questions after doing something naughty, but is now used more generally to ask why someone is not speaking.

Example: After she finished the story, I kept silent. "What's the matter, cat got your tongue?" she asked.

Did you know...?   There are a few theories about where this expression came from.  One theory is that it came from an ancient punishment of cutting out the tongues of liars and feeding them to cats!   Another theory is that it came from the Middle Ages when witches were greatly feared and often put to death. It was believed that if you saw a witch, her cat would somehow "steal" or control your tongue so you couldn't report the sighting.