Size up the Breadbox or Is it Bigger than a Breadbox?

Steve Allen on “What’s My Line?”

What was said? We really have to “size up the bread box” very quickly to know what we are dealing with.

Did someone really say that? Yes – twice! In the same meeting when discussing a new project and not being 100% sure about the project scope, amount of data we had to process, etc.

What does it mean? It basically means that we don’t know the size of the item in question (the project itself in the case above) and an attempt to gauge the size by comparing it to a “standard” breadbox.

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A Bone to Pick

bonetopick

What was said? I have a bone to pick with my accountant…

Did someone really say that? Yes, this one is brought to you by my husband – his first submission! Someone in his office said that to him the other day and he immediately thought of me.

What does it mean? It basically means there is a topic/issue that requires discussion/argument. The speaker of the idiom believes there will be a disagreement and that the other party has done him/her “wrong.”

Origin: Fortunately (or unfortunately) this one seems fairly straightforward. It dates back to the 1500’s and refers to a dog chewing on (picking clean) a bone.  Continue reading

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Camel’s Nose In/Under the Tent

Image result for the camel's nose

What was said? This may be a little bit like “the camel’s nose is in the tent,” but have we thought about…

Did someone really say that? Yes, in a team meeting when discussing our 2019 strategy, someone was brought up an off-topic suggestion and prefaced it with the camel saying.

What does it mean? It basically means opening the door to something small (like the camel’s nose) may lead to something larger and more undesirable (the entire camel in your tent!).

Origin: Apparently an old Arabian fable where a camel, after poking his nose into a tent, was allowed in to seek warmth, then (as camel’s are stubborn) wouldn’t leave! Continue reading

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They’re selling like hotcakes!

hotcake

What was said? A friend texted me asking “What’s the origin of ‘selling like hotcakes’?” which charged my curiosity as well!

Did someone really say that? Yes, Chloe did, thinking about the Black Friday rush for Bespoke Post.

What does it mean? It basically suggests that items are flying off the shelves, being disposed of quickly… basically that consumer demand is HOT!

Origin: A hotcake / hot cake is, in fact, what we know today as a pancake! The phrase Continue reading

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Left-handed Compliment / Backhanded Compliment

What was said? “I’m curious how the presentation will turn out because you are soooo detailed, and our other colleague is bigger picture.” To which I said “I think that’s a left-handed compliment” and immediately had to look it up!

Did someone really say that? Yes, when developing a pitch for a new client, someone said that to me and I replied with the idiom!

What does it mean? It basically is an insult disguised as a compliment! Another example: “Your haircut really slims your face.”

Origin: Back in the day, to be left-handed was considered negative in many parts of the world. In Latin, the word “sinistra” translated to “left” but actually became to mean deceitful or unlucky and is the origin of the English word “sinister.”

Some other research suggests that in the olden days, people would shake hands with their right hands to show that they were unarmed. Someone who was left-handed would still shake with their right hand, but then attack with their left being devious and deceitful.

Thankfully, we have moved beyond thinking those who are left-handed are trying to trick us, and we now know that some of the most creative/successful people in the world are left-handed, such as: Barack Obama, Marie Curie, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Babe Ruth, Napoleon Bonaparte, Leonardo DiVinci, Aristotle, Steve Jobs, Jimi Hendrix and more.

Sources:
https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/39092/how-did-sinister-the-latin-word-for-left-handed-get-its-current-meaning
https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=backhanded%20compliment
https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=left%20handed%20compliment
https://prezi.com/5ywd5uypobgs/allusions-left-handed-compliment/
https://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/famous-lefties/5/

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Canary in a Coal Mine

canary

What was said? I’m the CANARY!

Did someone really say that? Yes, on a call with our company’s lawyers, they were playing devil’s advocate and after asking a few questions, the lead lawyer yelled “I’m the Canary!” apparently referring to a “canary in a coal mine.”

What does it mean?  “Canary in a coal mine” is a metaphor about providing advance notice or warning of potential danger.

Origin: The expression dates back to 1911 when the concept of having a canary as an early detection system for hazardous gases in coal mines was introduced by John Scott Haldane in Great Britain. Miners used caged canaries to determine if there were any hazardous gasses (methane, carbon monoxide). If the canary died, that would signify the gas levels are poisonous to the miners as well and that they should exit the mine immediately. Birds were chosen as they get air in their system when they inhale and exhale, doubling the dose of potential toxic gases. In 1986, electronic warning detection systems were put in place, saving the birds from potential harm. In the case above, our lawyer was calling out signs of potential risk, hence calling out “I’m the Canary!” when playing the role of devil’s advocate.

On another note…“Canary Release” is a technical / IT term that refers to reducing the risk of introducing new software by slowly rolling out the change to a subset of users before rolling it out to all.

Sources:
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/story-real-canary-coal-mine-180961570/
https://birdnote.org/show/canary-coal-mine
http://grammarist.com/usage/canary-in-the-coalmine/

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Behind the Eight Ball / 8 Ball

Eight Ball

What was said? I’m behind the “8 ball” this year.

Did someone really say that? Yes, my friend Jenna texted me that when explaining her tardiness in sending out her annual valentine’s day party invitation.

What does it mean? It basically means at a disadvantage / in a bad situation / out of luck and in the case of the text, it meant the invite was delayed / she had to play catch up!

Origin:  The game of Pool / Billiards. When playing pool, if you are lined up with the cue ball and the eight ball is between the cue ball and the ball your object ball (the ball you are aiming for), you are trapped and have no straight shot. Since you cannot hit the eight ball before you have made all in your group, you are at a disadvantage.  The phrase has been traceable to 1919 per the wikipedia source below.

There are other forms of pool/billiards where the expressions is believed to have originated – from Kelly pool to others, but they all seem to signify that you are out of luck or at a disadvantage.

Sources:

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=behind%20the%20eight%20ball
http://www.dictionary.com/browse/behind-the-eight-ball
https://www.davemanuel.com/investor-dictionary/behind-the-eight-ball/
https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/behind-the-eight-ball.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelly_pool#”Behind_the_eight_ball”

REFERRALS:  Do you LOVE Rema’s Idiom Blog and look forward to it all the time?
If so, refer your friends!

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