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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Office Idioms 2


What is "stress"? Do you ever experience it? When?


Here are more idioms that can be used in business or everyday life.

Match the idioms to a related term. The answers are in the "Notes."

1. heave-ho
2. power trip
3. stressed out
4. take-charge
5. tongue-lashing
6. walking papers
7. whole hog

a. uses a little authority a lot
b. bad scolding
c. completely
d. like a leader
e. being fired
f. get rid of
g. too much pressure


1. heave-ho (f): To throw something away. When people did manual work together, they would often do a kind of chant to coordinate their actions. When throwing something, one of the chants used went like this: the leader would shout "Heave!" (It means "throw.") And as the workers threw whatever it was--bags of seed, nets full of fish, etc.--they would respond "Ho!"
2. power trip (a): A bit like an ego trip, this is when someone in authority uses his power unwisely. It's especially true when someone has a little power.
3. stressed out (g): Stress is a response to pressure from the outside. Actually, stress isn't a bad thing in itself: it keeps us going. The problem is when there is too much stress.
4. take-charge (d): Notice the hyphen. This is not a phrasal verb, "to take charge"; when two words are used as a single adjective, they are usually hyphenated. So we use this term when we have someone who is willing to be a leader.
5. tongue-lashing (b): A lash is like a whip. And a lashing is "a whipping." So a "tongue-lashing" is when someone is severely scolded.
6. walking papers (e): To be "given one's walking papers" means to be fired. There is often some documentation involved in firing an employee; these documents may be the origin of the phrase.
7. whole hog (c): The meaning is something like "completely." It can be used as a noun ("go the whole hog") or an adverb phrase ("go whole hog"). The origin seems to be in a story that some people were prohibited from eating pork. Because they were starving, they were permitted to eat some parts of a pig, but they were so hungry they ended up eating "the whole hog."


Use the seven terms above in the following sentences:

1. Give this project to Tom; he's a __________ guy.
2. After Diane lost the contract, she was given her__________.
3. I wish they hadn't made Susan the team leader; now she's on a real __________.
4. Don't do a half-finished job; go (the) __________ or don't go at all.
5. I need a break from all this! I'm so __________!
6. When my mistake lost us the contract, my boss gave me a real __________.
7. These old boxes are useless; let's give them the old "__________."


1. Write your own sentences using these terms.
2. Create a dialogue with these terms, and practice it with a friend.


1. take-charge
2. walking papers
3. power trip
4. whole hog
5. stressed out
6. tongue-lashing
7. heave-ho

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."

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