“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.


“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

“La-la land”

“When you say that someone is in la-la land, what you mean is that they are out of touch with reality. The person has no clue what’s going on”.

For example, “I have no idea what’s going on with my cousin Ganesh. He seems to be in la-la land.”

“If you ask me, people who believe that cricket is still a gentleman’s game are living in la-la land.”

Where does the expression ‘la-la-land’ come from?”

‘LA’ is the short form of Los Angeles. People living in this city are thought to be odd or eccentric. Hence the expression ‘la-la land’.

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

What is the meaning of the expression `on the fly’?

This is an informal expression that is mostly used in American English. When you do something `on the fly’, you do it very quickly, without spending too much time thinking about it.

This is a serious matter. I don’t think you should be taking decisions on the fly. The expression has another meaning as well. It means the ability to perform a task while you are on the move.

Padma’s new cell phone enables her to check her email on the fly.

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

Difference between `work for someone’ and `work with someone’

When you `work for’ someone, you are his employee; you have been hired by him to do a job. This doesn’t necessarily mean that this individual knows you personally; and chances are you may not be working along with him. Lots of people work for the Prime Minister; it doesn’t mean that Dr. Manmohan Singh knows everyone personally.

How would you like to work for Ambani?

When you `work with’ someone, you work along with the person. He may or may not be your boss. In this case, since the two of you work side by side, you see him on a regular basis and know him personally.

For my PhD, I would like to work with Prof. Nagalakshmi.

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