“Knocked their socks off”

When you say that something knocked your socks off, what you mean is that you found it to be really exciting or good.”

“In other words, it pleased you very much.  You were extremely pleased or happy with it. You were just blown away by the experience.

Examples:

“You should see Narender’s new car. It’ll knock your socks off.”

“The new restaurant is a very small place. The decor isn’t great, but the food will simply knock your socks off.”

“You must try this new brand of ice cream. It’ll knock your socks off.”

“It’s also possible to say ‘blow the socks off someone’. When the little girl began to sing, she blew the socks off everyone.”

Source: “The Hindu”   – Know Your English  Column –  March 04, 2008

Meaning of ‘until the cows come home’

The expression ‘until the cows come home’, means ‘for a very long time’.

The cowherd takes the cows out for grazing early in the morning and brings them back only in the evening. He is out the whole day and hence the term is used to mean ‘for a very long time’.

When the expression was first used, it meant ‘entire day’. Now it’s used to mean for a very long time.

Example: “ You can keep asking till the cows come home, but there is no way that you are going to get a new laptop.

“You are waiting for my boss to come up with a reasonably good idea? Then I’m afraid you’ll be waiting until the cows come home.”

“The two parties debated the issue till the cows came home, but for some strange reason they just couldn’t reach an agreement.”

Source: “The Hindu”   – Know Your English  Column –  March 04, 2008

The proof of the pudding is in the eating

This is an expression that has been around for several centuries. When you tell someone that the `proof of the pudding is in the eating’, what you mean is that in order to determine the value of something, one needs to test or try it. You are telling the individual not to pass judgment on something without examining the facts or evidence. You will come to know if the pudding is good or bad, only after tasting it. The expression is often reduced to `the proof of the pudding’, and it has the same meaning as `don’t judge a book by its cover’.

On paper, your suggestions look great. But you know what they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Source: “The Hindu”   – Know Your English  Column –  Feb 26, 2008

‘More sinned against than sinning’

This is an expression made popular by Shakespeare. In movies, we sometimes find the hero taking the law into his own hands when the legal system fails him. The villain kills his family members, but the police and the court fail to put the man behind bars. The hero then decides to take matters into his own hands, and goes around killing all those close to the villain. By doing this, he is committing a wrong, but he feels that he has the right to do what he is doing because a greater wrong has been done to him. He feels that he is the victim. When you say that someone is more sinned against than sinning, what you mean is that the individual is less guilty than those who have wronged him.

Example: It’s true she shot the politician in cold blood. But when you hear the entire story, you’ll feel she was more sinned against than sinning.

Source: “The Hindu”   – Know Your English  Column –  Feb 19, 2008

Meaning of the expression “to separate the sheep from the goats”.

This is an expression that comes from the Bible. When you say that you are going to separate the sheep from the goats, what you mean is that you are going to separate the good from the bad. It is also possible to say, “sort out the sheep from the goats”. These two expressions have the same meaning as “to separate the wheat from the chaff”.

Source: “The Hindu”   – Know Your English  Column –  Feb 12, 2008

He who pays the piper calls the tune.

The idiom means that the person who provides the money for something has the right to decide how things should be done. The man who pays can call the shots.

Examples:

“Since my friend is hosting the party, and he is paying for everything, he has the right to make all the decisions.”

“ I don’t agree with Jai at all, but he’s funding the project. He who pays the piper calls the tune.”

The owner has the right to decide who will play in the next match. He who pays the piper calls the tune.”

The origin of this idiom :  In the old days, it was the job of the piper to provide music at the various ceremonies. Normally, he played whatever people wanted him to. But the kind of music depended on who was paying him.

Source: “The Hindu”   – Know Your English  Column –  Jan 29, 2008

‘take a leaf out of someone’s book’

When you take a leaf out of someone’s book, what you are doing is copying or imitating the individual. You are using him as a model and are following his example hoping that you will gain something by this.

Example: “I took a leaf out of Surendran’s book and started submitting my assignments on time”.

The word ‘leaf’ here refers to a page from a book. Therefore, when you take a leaf from someone’s book, you are copying what the individual has written. The original meaning of this idiom was therefore to ‘plagiarise’. Nowadays, the expression has lost its negative connotation and is used only in a positive sense: to imitate someone.

Source: “The Hindu”   – Know Your English  Column –  Jan 22, 2008