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Idioms and their origins

Idioms used to convey messages relevant to the situation in fewer words. They may not mean the same in the literal sense but have figurative meaning attached to them. So, understanding the origin of idioms can help us to use them in the right context. Origins of these can see from philosophy, religion, science, and art.

Here are few idioms and their origins:

1. Best of both worlds


If a person does good in the world, he/she will have a good current life and the afterlife. So, it is best of both worlds for him/her before and after death.

Meaning: to refer to a win-win situation.

Example: I got a deal that let me stay in five-star luxury at two-star prices; it was the best of all both worlds.

2. A penny for your thoughts


During a discussion or meeting, there are people who don't prefer to talk or lost in their thoughts. To bring their attention to the discussion, mediator wants to pay penny or money to speak their mind.

Meaning: to make someone talk about their ideas.

Example: You seem pretty pleased, a penny for your thoughts.

3. running on fumes


When machines run with almost no oil or only vapor left in the tank, it states that they ran for a long time and can stop at any time.

Meaning: someone is working with low energy after working for a long time.

Example: I am running on fumes to finish this project.

5. go the extra mile


During the Roman Empire times, there was oppressive law against Jews. Law states that Jew should carry baggage for 1 mile when Roman soldier finds any Jew on the way. Jesus suggested Jews to carry baggage for two miles instead of one mile to make soldiers violate the law.

Meaning: to put in extra effort

Example: She is a very nice person and is always willing to go the extra mile to help others.

5. it takes two to tango


Tango is a Latin dance from South America performed by a couple.

Meaning: 2 people are responsible instead of one person.

Example: I cannot do this all alone, neither can you - it takes two to tango.

That's all for now to get started with idioms. Once you know the origin, it's easier to use idioms often and improve your vocabulary.