Recently, I have been listening to the news about the government's tribulations as well as the Super Bowl. I realized how many idiomatic expressions the newscasters used to make what they’re saying more interesting. Have any of you had the same experience? One expression, especially, has been coming up rather frequently – “Let me set the table” for you. Have you heard this one? They’re not referring to how to arrange things to be used while eating a meal such as plates, utensils, glasses, or napkin. Before asking a question to a panel of experienced professionals, or before giving us more information, the journalist said: “Let me set the table for you” first. You probably can figure it out without an explanation, but it’s an interesting new expression that has been used so often recently. They want to give you some background information that lead us to the important news they have to tell.
If you are not a native American English speaker or even if you are, you may have missed what some of these expressions meant.
When talking about DACA, the expression “Taking it off the table” (to remove an issue from a negotiation) and putting it on the people, came up.
I have to admit, that I never heard of this one: “Tilting at windmills.” The broadcaster said that the President may have been “tilting at windmills. This means being engaged in conflict with an imagined opponent or pursue a vain goal. This expression alludes to the hero of Miguel de Cervantes” Don Quixote (1605) who rides with his lance at full tilt poised to strike against a row of windmills which he mistakes for evil giants.
Donald Trump Jr. was “promised dirt” (gossip, scandal, incriminating secrets) on Hillary Clinton during the campaign.
This gives Congress a chance to “kick the can down the road.” if you kick the can down the road, you delay a decision in hopes that the problem or issue will go away or somebody else will make the decision later.
They can “punt”, and we expect them to do that. This is taken from a football term and means a difficult decision can be punted to someone else, decided later. Example: the U.S. Supreme Court punted the decision back to the lower court, to the appellate court to be decided later.
In a commercial about business, they said: “You’ve got the green light.” (To grant someone permission to proceed with some action or task; they can go ahead and do something.)
In another commercial, this one about the company Wayfair, they said: “Game changer, Wayfair ships for free.” Game changer means a person or idea that transforms the accepted rules, processes, strategies and management of business functions.
Sports News, players being interviewed:
Before the Super Bowl, Eagle players being interviewed said: You never know how things will “pan out.” (To turn out or result)
“You have to keep on trucking” (Used as an encouragement to keep going, not to give up)
When you study Tom Brady (American football player), what “jumps out at you?” (What immediately gets your attention; what do you notice immediately?)
Everything “started out with a bang” that year. (To begin with considerate excitement.)
We have a guy who can play soccer who can just “kill it.” (Very successful at it; can play very well.)
“On top of his game” (To be at one’s best or most skillful.)
If you have heard of an idiomatic expression that you didn’t understand, please share it with us and we’ll try to explain it.
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