Monday, January 9, 2012

Know your English !! Part.VI

Archaism: Word or expression widely used in earlier days which now sound very old-fashioned, such as doth, perchance, yonder and wench.

Burning one’s boats: Committing oneself to a course of action that it will be impossible to back out of later. The idea behind the phrase is drawn from ancient warfare: by burning its boats, an invading army would be destroying its own means of retreat, and would fight more bravely in the knowledge that safety lay only in victory.

Doesn’t look a gift horse in the mouth: Proverb advising that one should accept gifts without inspecting them too closely, let alone criticizing them. It refers to the practice of inspecting a horse’s teeth to find out its age-the shorter the teeth the older the horse, since chewing wears the teeth down. Someone buying a horse would obviously inspect its mouth – hence the expression ‘from the horse’s mouth’ as an assurance of reliable information.
Ellipsis: Omission from a sentence of a word or phrase that is implied by the context. Ellipsis also refers to the ‘dot-dot-dot’ punctuation mark (…) used to indicate that something is missing from a quoted passage.

Flash in the pan:  Something that suddenly seems to have great interest, appeal or promise, but that soon loses it and returns to obscurity.
The original flash in the pan occurred in the old flint lock gun. The loose gunpowder carefully measured and placed in the gun’s ‘flash pan’ was meant to be ignited by a spark from the flint. If the gunpowder was damp or insufficient, however, it would fizzle or flash rather than explode effectively.

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