Добавил:
Опубликованный материал нарушает ваши авторские права? Сообщите нам.
Вуз: Предмет: Файл:

American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms

.pdf
Скачиваний:
1031
Добавлен:
10.08.2013
Размер:
4.58 Mб
Скачать

property. [Mid-1500s] This usage also appears in the idiom keep up appearances meaning "to maintain a good front, make things look good even if they're not," as in She was devastated by his had prognosis but is trying hard to keep up appearances for their children. [Mid-1700s] 4. Persevere, carry on, prolong, as in Keep up the good work, or How long will this noise keep up? [Early 1500s] Also see KEEP IT UP. 5. Also, keep up with; keep up on. Stay in touch, remain informed. For example, Ann and I haven't seen each other since college, but we keep up through

our annual Christmas letters, or We subscribe to three papers so as to keep up on current events.

[c. 1900] 6. keep someone up. Cause someone to remain out of bed, as in He's keeping up the children beyond their bedtime. [Mid-1700s]

keep watch Also, keep a watch or close watch on; watch over. Observe with continuous attention, especially to act as a sentinel or for protection. For example, Afraid that the wolves would return, she kept watch while the others slept, or They kept a close watch on the harbor, looking for signs of enemy ships, or, according to the Gospel of St. Luke (2:8): "And there were in the same country shepherds . . . keeping watch over their flock by night." [Late 1300s] Also see

KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR.

keep your . . .

hand. see under KEEP ONE'S.

keg

hand. see SITTING ON A POWDER KEG.

kettle

hand. In addition to the idiom beginning with KETTLE, also see POT CALLING THE

KETTLE BLACK.

kettle of fish

1. Also, a fine or pretty kettle of fish. An unpleasant or messy predicament, as in They haven't spoken in years, and they're assigned to adjoining seats?

that's a fine kettle of fish. This term alludes to the Scottish riverside picnic called kettle of fish, where freshly caught salmon were boiled and eaten out of hand. [Early 1700s] 2. a different or another kettle of fish. A very different matter or issue, not necessarily a bad one. For example,

They're paying for the meal? That's a different kettle of fish. [First half of 1900s]

key

hand. In addition to the idiom beginning with KEY, also see IN KEY; UNDER LOCK AND

KEY.

key up

Make intense, excited, or nervous. For example, The excitement of the gallery opening has really keyed her up. This usage alludes to key in the sense of "wind up a spring-driven mechanism such as a clock." [Late 1800s]

kibosh

hand. see PUT THE KIBOSH ON.

kick

hand. In addition to the idioms beginning with KICK, also see ALIVE AND KICKING;

FOR FUN (KICKS); GET A BANG (KICK) OUT OF.

kick a habit Also, kick it; kick the habit. Overcome or give up habitual use, especially of narcotics. For example, Smoking is addictive; it's not easy to kick, or If he doesn't kick the habit, he may not make it through school. This idiom uses kick in the sense of "get rid of." [First half of 1900s]

kick around

1. Treat badly, abuse, as in I'm sick and tired of being kicked around by my supervisor. [Colloquial; first half of 1900s] 2. Also, kick about. Move from place to place, as in They spent three years kicking around the country on their bikes, or We've no address; we're just kicking about until we find somewhere to settle. [Colloquial; early 1800s] 3. Also, kick about. Consider, think about or discuss; examine or try out. For example, Let's kick this scenario around for a while and see what we come up with, or We've been kicking about various schemes to make money. [Colloquial; first half of 1900s] 4. Be available or unused, as in This old computer has been kicking around for months?

no one seems to want it. [c. 1900]

kick ass

Punish or discipline harshly; also, defeat soundly. For example, That foreman's furious; he's going to kick ass before the day is over, or Our team is out to kick ass today. [Vulgar slang; 1940s]

kick back

1.Recoil unexpectedly and violently, as in This rifle kicks back a lot when you fire it. [Early 1800s]

2.Return stolen property to the owner, as in The pawnbroker kicked back the paintings to the gallery. [Colloquial; first half of 1900s] 3. Pay back a part of one's earnings, as in The workers were forced to kick back half their pay to the agent. [Colloquial; first half of 1900s]

kick in

1.Contribute one's share, as in We'll kick in half if you take care of the rest. [Colloquial; c. 1900]

2.Also, kick off. Die, as in No one knows when he'll kick in, or He finally kicked off yesterday.

[Slang; first half of 1900s] Also see KICK THE BUCKET. 3. Begin to operate, as in Finally

the motor kicked in and we could get started. This usage was first recorded in

1908.

kick in the pants, a

1. Also, a kick in the teeth. A humiliating setback or rebuff. For example, That rejection was a real kick in the pants, or That review was a kick in the teeth. A third, vulgar variant of these colloquial terms is a kick in the ass. Versions of this last expression??

kick in the breech, kick in the behindhave been used since the early 1800s. 2. A cause of enjoyment, as in That show was a real kick in the pants. This meaning is virtually the opposite of def. 1 and can be differentiated from it only by the context. [1960s]

kick it

hand. see KICK A HABIT.

kick off

1. Start, begin, as in They kicked off the celebration with a parade. This term alludes to starting play by kicking the ball in soccer, football, and similar sports. [Mid-1800s] 2. See KICK IN, def.

2.

kick oneself

Berate oneself, reproach one-self, as in I've been kicking myself all day for forgetting the keys.

[Late 1800s]

kick out

1. Also, boot out. Throw out, dismiss, especially ignominiously. For example, George said they'd been kicked out of the country club, or The owner booted them out of the restaurant for being loud and disorderly. This idiom alludes to expelling someone with a KICK IN THE PANTS. [Late

1600s] 2. Supply, especially in a sorted fashion, as in The bureau kicked out the precise data for this month's production. [Slang; late 1900s]

kick over the traces

Break loose from restraint, misbehave. For example, There's always one child who'll kick over the traces as soon as the bell rings. This metaphoric expression alludes to the straps attaching a horse to a vehicle, which the animal sometimes gets a leg over in order to kick more freely and thereby refuse to move forward. [Mid-1800s]

kick the bucket

Die, as in All of my goldfish kicked the bucket while we were on vacation. This moderately impolite usage has a disputed origin. Some say it refers to committing suicide by hanging, in which one stands on a bucket, fastens a rope around one's neck, and kicks the bucket away. A more likely origin is the use of bucket in the sense of "a beam from which something may be suspended"; because pigs were suspended by their heels from such beams after being slaughtered, the term kick the bucket came to mean "to die." [Colloquial; late 1700s]

ACT UP; also subsequent entries beginning with KICK UP.

kick the habit

hand. see KICK A HABIT.

kick up

Malfunction, cause trouble or pain, as in My grandmother's arthritis is kicking up again. [Colloquial; first half of 1900s] Also see

kick up a fuss Also, kick up a row or storm. Create a disturbance; start a fight. For example,

The soup was cold, and Aunt Mary began to kick up a fuss, calling for the manager, or There's no need to kick up a row; the boys will leave quietly, or If they fire him, Carl is ready to kick up a storm. These expressions all em

ploy kick up in the sense of "raise dust or dirt," a usage dating from the mid-1700s.

kick up one's heels

Enjoy oneself, as in When she retires, she plans to kick up her heels and travel. This expression originated about 1600 with a totally different meaning, "to be killed." The modern sense, alluding to a prancing horse or exuberant dancer, dates from about 1900.

kick upstairs

Promote someone to a higher but less desirable position, especially one with less authority. For example, Paul never forgave the company for kicking him upstairs at age 55. This expression alludes to its antonym, kick downstairs, simply meaning "eject." [Mid-1900s]

kid

hand. In addition to the idioms beginning with KID, also see HANDLE WITH (KID)

GLOVES. Also see KIDDING.

kid around

Engage in good-humored fooling, joking, or teasing. For example, He's always kidding around with the other boys. [First half of 1900s]

kidding

hand. see ALL JOKING (KIDDING) ASIDE; NO KIDDING.

kid gloves

hand. see HANDLE WITH KID GLOVES.

kid stuff

Something very easy or uncomplicated, as in That new computer program is kid stuff. This usage alludes to something suitable for young children, or "kids." [c. 1920]

kid the pants off

see PANTS OFF.

kill

hand. In addition to the idioms beginning with KILL, also see CURIOSITY KILLED THE

CAT; DRESSED TO KILL; FIT TO KILL; IN AT THE DEATH (KILL); LADY KILLER; MAKE A KILLING; RUN OUT (KILL) THE CLOCK.

kill off

1.Render extinct, eliminate completely, as in The plague killed off entire villages and towns. [c. 1600]

2.Represent as dead, as in This mystery writer kills off a new victim in almost every chapter.

[Mid1800s]

kill or cure

Either remedy a disease or kill the patient, as in The copy chief did not like her headline for the drug, "Kill or Cure." This expression dates from the mid-1700s, when it was already being used half-jokingly.

kill the fatted calf

Prepare for a joyful occasion or a warm welcome. For example, When Bill comes home from his trip to Korea we're going to kill the fatted calf. This expression alludes to the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), whose father welcomed him by serving the choicest calf after his return. [Early 1600s]

kill the goose that lays the golden eggs

Destroy a source of riches through stupidity or greed, as in If he never gives his loyal customers a break on some items in his store, he'll kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. This expression, already a proverb in the late 1400s, alludes to Aesop's fable about a farmer whose goose lays one golden egg a day, and who kills the goose in the mistaken belief that he'll get all the eggs at once.

kill time

Pass time aimlessly. For example, There was nothing to do, so I sat around killing time until dinner was ready. This idiom was first recorded about 1768.

kill two birds with one stone

Achieve two ends with a single effort, as in As long as I was in town on business, I thought I'd kill two birds and visit my uncle too. This expression is so well known that it is often shortened, as in the example. [c. 1600]

kill with kindness

Overwhelm or harm someone with mistaken or excessive benevolence. For example, Aunt Mary constantly sends Jane chocolates and cake and other goodies, even though she's been told Jane's on a diet

nothing like killing with kindness. This expression originated as kill with kindness as fond apes do their young (presumably crushing them to death in a hug) and was a proverb by the mid-1500s.

kilter

hand. see OUT OF KILTER.

kin

hand. see KITH AND KIN.

kind

hand. In addition to the idiom beginning with KIND, also see ALL KINDS OF; IN KIND;

NOTHING OF THE KIND; OF A KIND; TWO OF A KIND.

kindly

hand. see TAKE KINDLY TO.

kindness

hand. see KILL WITH KINDNESS; MILK OF HUMAN KINDNESS.

kind of Also, sort of. Rather, somewhat, as in I'm kind of hungry, or The bird looked sort of like a sparrow. [Colloquial; c. 1800] This usage should not be confused with a kind of or a sort of, which are much older and refer to a borderline member of a given category (as in a kind of a shelter or a sort of a bluish color). Shakespeare had this usage in Two Gentlemen of Verona

(3:1): "My master is a kind of a knave." Also see OF A KIND.

kindred spirit Also, kindred soul. An individual with the same beliefs, attitudes or feelings as oneself. For example,

Dean and I are kindred spirits when it comes to spending money?we're both tight. [Mid-1800s]

king

hand. In addition to the idiom beginning with KING, also see LIVE LIKE A KING.

king's ransom

A huge sum of money, as in That handmade rug must have cost a king's ransom. This metaphoric expression originally referred to the sum required to release a king from captivity. [Late 1400s]

kiss and make up

Settle one's differences, reconcile, as in The two friends decided to kiss and make up. This colloquial expression has largely replaced kiss and be friends, dating from the 1400s. [Mid-1900s]

kiss and tell

Betray a confidence, as in A real lady doesn't kiss and tell. This idiom originally alluded to betraying an amorous or sexual intimacy. First recorded in 1695, it is still so used, as well as more loosely, as in

Don't ask how I voted; I don't kiss and tell.

kiss ass Also, kiss up to. Seek or gain favor by fawning or flattery, as in I am not going to kiss ass to get the raise I deserve, or If I could find a good way to kiss up to the publisher, my book would be well promoted. The first, a vulgar slangy usage, was first recorded in 1705 as kiss arse, which is still the British usage. The variant, a euphemistic blend of kiss ass and SUCK UP TO,

dates from the late 1900s.

kiss good-bye

Be forced to regard as lost, ruined, or hopeless, as in Now that both kids are sick, we'll have to kiss our vacation in Florida good-bye. This usage ironically alludes to a genuine good-bye kiss. [Colloquial; c. 1900] Also see KISS OFF, def. 2.

kissing cousins

Two or more things that are closely akin or very similar. For example, They may be made by different manufacturers, but these two cars are kissing cousins. This metaphoric term alludes to a distant relative who is well known enough to be greeted with a kiss. [c. 1930]

kiss of death

An action or relationship that is ultimately ruinous. For example, Some regard a royal divorce as a kiss of death to the monarchy. This term alludes to the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot, who kissed him as a way of identifying him to the soldiers who came to arrest him (Matthew 26: 47-49). It dates only from about 1940 but was previously called a Judas kiss.

kiss off

1. Dismiss or reject, as in He kissed off their offer. This usage alludes to kissing something goodbye [Slang; c. 1900] 2. Be forced to give up or regard as lost, as in You can kiss off that promotion. [Slang; late 1940s] 3. Get out, go away, as in She told the reporters to kiss off. [Slang; early 1900s]

kit and caboodle

hand. see WHOLE KIT AND CABOODLE.

kitchen

hand. see EVERYTHING BUT THE KITCHEN SINK; IF YOU CAN'T STAND THE

HEAT, GET OUT OF THE KITCHEN.

kite

hand. see GO FLY A KITE; HIGH AS A KITE.

kith and kin

Friends and family, as in Everyone was invited, kith and kin as well as distant acquaintances. This expression dates from the 1300s and originally meant "countrymen" (kith meant "one's native land") and "family members." It gradually took on the present looser sense.

kitten

hand. see HAVE A FIT (KITTENS); WEAK AS A KITTEN.

knee

hand. In addition to the idiom beginning with KNEE, also see BRING TO ONE'S KNEES;

ON BENDED KNEE.

knee-high to a grasshopper

Quite young, as in I haven't seen him since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. This hyperbolic expression, dating from about 1850 and alluding to someone's youth, replaced the earlier knee-high to a mosquito or bumblebee or splinter.

knell

hand. see DEATH KNELL.

knife

hand. see AT GUNPOINT (KNIFEPOINT); UNDER THE KNIFE; YOU COULD CUT IT WITH A KNIFE.

knight in shining armor

A rescuer or defender, as in What this political party needs is a knight in shining armor to change its tarnished image. This metaphoric expression alludes to a medieval knight. [Mid-1900s]

knock

hand. In addition to the idioms beginning with KNOCK, also see BEAT (KNOCK) INTO

SOMEONE'S HEAD; BEAT (KNOCK) THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS OUT OF; (KNOCK) DOWN TO SIZE; (KNOCK) OFF SOMEONE'S FEET; SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS.

knock about Also, knock around. 1. Be rough or brutal with, maltreat, as in He was known to knock his wife about on a regular basis. [c. 1800] 2. Wander from place to place, as in They were knocking around Europe all summer. [Colloquial; c. 1830] 3. Discuss or consider, as in They met to

knock about some new ideas. [Mid-1900s] Also see KICK AROUND.

knock back Also, knock it back. Gulp down an alcoholic beverage, as in He knocked back glass after glass of wine, or I hear you've been knocking it back a bit. [First half of 1900s]

knock cold

hand. see KNOCK OUT, def. 1.

knock dead

Greatly amuse, astonish, or thrill someone, as in This new song will knock them dead. This slangy hyperbolic expression was first recorded in 1889. Also see KNOCK THE SOCKS OFF.

knock down

1. Take apart for storage or shipping, as in We need to knock down this chest to ship it safely overseas. [Mid-1900s] 2. Declare sold at an auction, as by striking a blow with a gavel. For example, That was the last bid, and the first edition was knocked down for only three hundred. [Mid-1700s] 3. Reduce the price of, as in They knocked it down by another hundred dollars, or An overabundant harvest will knock down corn prices. [Colloquial; mid-1800]. 4. Earn as wages, as in She knocks down a hundred grand a year. [Slang; 1920s] 5. Steal, embezzle, as in He was caught knocking down the box-office receipts. This usage may be obsolescent. [Slang; mid-1800s] Also

see KNOCK OVER, def. 2.

knock down with a feather

hand. see under KNOCK FOR A LOOP.

knock for a loop Also, throw for a loop; knock down or over with a feather; knock sideways. Overcome with surprise or astonishment, as in The news of his death knocked me for a loop, or Being fired without any warning threw me for a loop, or Jane was knocked sideways when she found out she won. The first two of these hyperbolic colloquial usages, dating from the first half of the 1900s, allude to the comic-strip image of a person pushed hard enough to roll over in the shape of a loop. The third hyperbolic term, often put as You could have knocked me down with a feather, intimating that something so light as a feather could knock one down, dates from the early 1800s; the fourth was first recorded in 1925.

knock into a cocked hat

Debunk, render useless or unbelievable. For example, His findings knocked our theory into a cocked hat. This expression alludes to a style of hat with the brim turned up on three sides?

the three-cornered (tricorne) hat worn by officers in the American Revolution?

giving it a distorted look. [Early 1800s]

knock it off

Quit or stop doing something, as in Knock it off, boys! That's enough noise. This term is often used

as an imperative. [Colloquial; c. 1900] Also see KNOCK OFF.

knock off

1. Take a break or rest from, stop, especially quit working. For example, He knocked off work at noon, or Let's knock off at five o'clock. [Colloquial; mid-1600s] Also see KNOCK IT OFF. 2.

Also, knock out. Dispose of or produce easily or hastily, finish, as in A writer of detective novels, he knocks off a book a year, or We can knock out a rough drawing in a few minutes. The first colloquial usage dates from the early 1800s, the variant from the mid-1800s. 3. Get rid of, reduce, as in She knocked off twelve pounds in a month, or They knocked off one-third of the original price.

[Colloquial; early 1800s] 4. Kill, murder, as in They decided to knock off the old lady. [Slang; early 1900s] Also see KNOCK SOMEONE'S BLOCK OFF. 5. Copy or imitate, especially without permission, as in They are knocking off designer Swiss watches and selling them for a few dollars. [Colloquial; late 1800s] 6. Hold up, rob, as in The gang knocked off two liquor stores in half an hour. [Slang; early 1900s] Also see KNOCK THE SOCKS OFF.

knock oneself out

1. Make a great effort, as in I was knocking myself out to finish on time. This expression also is put negatively, Don't knock yourself out, meaning ''don't exert yourself; it's not worth that much effort." [c. 1930] 2. Enjoy yourself, have a good time, as in You're off to Europe? Knock yourself out. [Slang; mid-1900s] Both usages allude to knocking oneself unconscious (see KNOCK OUT).

For a synonym see BREAK ONE'S ASS.

knock on wood Also, touch wood. Express a wish that something will or will not occur, as in

This last round of treatment should have cured her, knock on wood. This expression alludes to an ancient superstition that literally knocking on or touching wood will ward off evil spirits. [c. 1900]

knock out

1. Also, knock out cold. Render unconscious by a blow or some other means. For example, It was just a swinging door, but it knocked her out, or Just one of those sleeping pills can knock you out cold. [Late 1500s] 2. Make tired, exhaust, as in That sightseeing tour knocked me out. 3.

Render useless or inoperative, as in The storm knocked out the power. 4. See KNOCK OFF, def.

2. 5. See KNOCK ONESELF OUT.

knock over

1. Astonish, overcome, as in Their resemblance completely knocked me over.

[Mid-1800s] Also see KNOCK FOR A LOOP. 2. Steal or burgle, as in They knocked over one bank and headed for another. [Slang; 1920s]

knock over with a feather