my American friend podcast episode 44: “to be PACKED IN LIKE SARDINES”, “to have EYES LIKE A HAWK”, “to EAT CROW” …. learn a lot of animal-related expressions.
Marta: Today we’re talking about “ANIMALS” !
Cindy: Hi Marta! Hey Marta, I love your hair & make-up today! You look beautiful!
Marta: Thank you, Cindy!
Cindy: You’re a STONE-COLD FOX!
Marta: Uh?…that’s a compliment, right??
Cindy: Yes! To call someone a ‘’stone cold fox’’ is a great compliment! It means they’re very good looking!
Marta: ok, then. You’re right then, I AM a stone cold fox! 🙂
Cindy: Y’know, Marta, I was thinking that you love animals so much and I love animals, and I’m sure that we have a lot of listeners out there who love animals too. Wouldn’t it be fun to do an episode about animal-related idioms and expressions?
Marta: Sounds great!
Cindy: Alright get the sound effects button ready. Let’s begin with your home: you’ve got a BIRD’S EYE VIEW through your living room window! It’s incredible! I can see all the surrounding hills.
Marta: A bird’s eye view.
Cindy: A bird’s eye view means you’re high up and you have a good view of everything below you. A bird’s eye view.
Marta: I like that! How about another?
Cindy: Ok, what if I say ‘’John has EYES LIKE A HAWK!’’
Marta: Then he must have very good vision?
Cindy: Exactly, if someone has ‘’eyes like a hawk’’ they have very good vision and are attentive to everything.
Marta: What if we refer to someone as being ‘’LIKE A PARROT’’?
Cindy: Oh, here we must be very careful! 🙂 Little children are like parrots– they’ll repeat everything you say! So be sure to only use polite language around them!
Marta: Useful advice! Cindy, I once heard the expression ‘’TO EAT CROW’’, what does it mean?
Cindy: To ‘’eat crow’’ means admitting that you were wrong and then suffering humiliation from it! We don’t actually eat a bird, a crow, it’s just an expression.
Marta: Can you give us a sentence?
Cindy: Sure! Steve had been bragging all year long about how his favorite football team was so awesome and they would surely beat out everyone to win the Super Bowl….
Marta: I remember!
Cindy: But when his team failed to even make the play-offs, he had to eat crow and finally admit they were a terrible team!
Marta: Got it.
Cindy: Better luck next time loser!
Marta: Ok, we’ve got it! There’s no reason to be mean to Steve!
Cindy: But seriously, Steve, your team is made up of a bunch of like DINOSAURS!!
Marta: Why? Because they’re old?
Cindy: …and nearly extinct! Seriously, they’re like slow…like a bunch of TURTLES. My grandmother moves faster than his team.
Marta: (sigh) ….moving on.
Cindy: Let’s talk about bugs.
Marta: You know I HATE bugs!
Cindy: I know, but unfortunately the word ‘’bug’’ is used everywhere. We can use ‘’BUG’’ to describe a problem with our computer.
Cindy: We also use ‘’bug’’ to refer to a minor illness, like a head cold or the stomach flu. If I say: I’m feeling really tired today and I’ve got a headache and a sore throat.’’
Marta: Hmm…then you must have CAUGHT A ‘’BUG’’. Ok, Cindy…let’s change the subject! Talking about bugs is starting to bug me!
Cindy: (whispering) That means she’s annoyed!
Marta: If you want to talk about bugs- then I will talk about snakes!
Cindy: No!! Not snakes! I hate snakes!
Marta: If I call someone a ‘’SNAKE’’.
Cindy: Then it’s not a compliment. It means they are sneaky, crafty, untrustworthy. Ok, ok, that’s enough creepy stuff. I’m starting to get GOOSE BUMPS Ick! Snakes!
Marta: When talking about snakes, Cindy is a big CHICKEN!
Cindy: It’s true! If someone is a chicken, that means they’re afraid, or not very brave. For example: I never watch horror movies- I’m too chicken!
Marta: It’s just acting! It’s not real!
Cindy: You wanna know the last time I watched a horror movie?
Marta: You’re a chicken!
Cindy: That’s right I am. 1999. That’s the last time I saw a horror movie in a theater. 1999. I saw ‘’The Sixth Sense’’ with Bruce Willis.
Marta: I would have loved to have been a ‘’FLY ON THE WALL’’ in that movie theater!
Cindy: Great expression! ‘’A fly on the wall’’ that means you want to quietly watch & hear what happens in a room- without anyone actually knowing that you are there. ‘’A fly on the wall’’. It’s a good one. Oh, how about ‘’THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM’’?
Marta: That’s an obvious problem or situation that nobody wants to discuss.
Cindy: ‘’The elephant in the room’’
Marta: And if you can’t see the elephant in the room?
Cindy: That would be me! I have terrible vision! (laughs) If someone has very poor vision then we say ‘’they are BLIND AS A BAT!’’
Marta: Someone with poor vision is ‘’blind as a bat’’. Got it.
Cindy: And speaking of vision, it’s nice to see the sunshine again isn’t it? I think we’re finally at the tail end of winter. It’s nearly over.
Marta: I hope so.
Cindy: Before you know it, it will be warm & sunny…
Marta: …and we’ll all be back at the beach!
Cindy: PACKED IN LIKE SARDINES! 🙂 If we say ‘’we’re packed in like sardines’’ that means there are a lot of people packed into a small area, like sardines (small fish) in a can.
Marta: …or like an Italian beach during mid-August!
Cindy: Oh my, if any of you have ever experienced an Italian beach during mid-August- you will surely understand the meaning of ‘’packed in like sardines’’ 🙂 And we invite you to take a look at the vocabulary at the end of this transcript. It’s PACKED with lots of fun animal-related expressions and idioms!
Marta: Cindy, are you trying to WORM YOUR WAY OUT OF this episode?
Cindy: Am I trying to avoid the responsibility of doing my job? Uh, yeah!!! The sun is shining for like the first time in a month! Let’s go out and enjoy it!
Marta: Good idea! Thank you for listening everyone!
Cindy: Thanks everyone…and a special thanks to my husband Gio who gave us the idea for this episode! Have a great day everybody! And be sure to come visit us on our blog at www.myamericanfriendblog.com. You can also catch us on Facebook, iTunes, Podomatic, Twitter and Youtube!
1. A ‘’stone cold fox’’- Slang term for someone very good looking, attractive, hot, beautiful, handsome.
EXAMPLE: Susan is a stone cold fox! She’s so beautiful. All the guys in the office are crazy about her!
2. To have a ‘’bird’s-eye view’’- An excellent view from high above the ground.
EXAMPLE: I love airplane travel because I can have a bird’s eye view of the Earth. From my window, I can see mountains, rivers, fields and clouds. It’s fascinating for me!
3. to have ‘’eyes like a hawk’’- to have excellent vision, like that of a hawk. To be very attentive to your surroundings. To watch everything. To pay close attention.
EXAMPLE: My mother has eyes like a hawk! She always knew when my brothers & I were about to get into some mischief! She always caught us before we did anything wrong.
4. To be ‘’like a parrot’’-to repeat everything one hears, like a parrot.
EXAMPLE: We are always very careful not to use any bad language in front of my 3 year old niece. She’s like a little parrot, she repeats everything she hears from the adults!
5. To eat crow- to admit you were wrong after making a strong argument and suffer humiliation afterwards.
6. To refer to something as a ‘’dinosaur’’- to imply that something is old, outdated, antique, slow.
EXAMPLE: My laptop computer is a dinosaur! It’s old, functions slowly and crashes quite often. I must save my money and purchase a new one this year.
7. Computer bug- an error, flaw, failure or fault in a computer program or system
EXAMPLE: Tomorrow I’ll take my laptop to be repaired. I must have a bug. It keeps crashing, causing me to lose all my unsaved data.
8. To catch a bug- to contract a minor ailment like a head cold or the stomach flu.
EXAMPLE: I’m feeling very tired today. My throat is sore and I have a headache too. I must have caught a bug. Tonight I will go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep.
9.To ‘’bug’’ someone- to annoy someone
EXAMPLE: It’s easy to bug my sister. She hates my preference in music. I love listening to rap. She always becomes annoyed whenever I turn my stereo on!
10. To call someone ‘’a snake’’- to call them untrustworthy, dishonest, sneaky, crafty.
EXAMPLE: My sister’s ex-boyfriend is nothing but a snake. He lied to her and cheated on her with her best friend. Our parents were so happy when she finally broke up with him because he was a terrible person.
11. To get ‘’goose bumps’’ from something- a roughness of the skin produced by erection of its papillae especially from cold, fear, or a sudden feeling of excitement (Merriam-Webster definition)
You can get goose bumps from either good or bad sensations.
EXAMPLE of a bad sensation: My uncle is terrified of spiders. Every time we talk about spiders he gets goose bumps and his face turns pale. We never mention spiders any more when he is around us! J
EXAMPLE of a good sensation: I got goose bumps when I heard Whitney Houston sing The Star Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl back in 1991. She had the most incredible singing voice I had ever heard.
12. To be a ‘’chicken’’– to be easily scared, not brave, without courage.
EXAMPLE: I’m such a chicken when I watch horror movies! I am so easily scared that I spend the entire movie with my hands covering my eyes!
13. To be a ‘’a fly on the wall’’- to go unnoticed, to quietly observe without speaking or calling attention to yourself.
EXAMPLE: I would like to be a fly on the wall during the board meeting this afternoon. I would like to see how the decisions are being made about our company’s future.
14. An elephant in the room- an obvious subject, problem, situation that no one wants to talk about.
EXAMPLE: Everyone was smiling & friendly during the office meeting, but nobody wanted to discuss the elephant in the room– which is the future of the company and our job security. For months, the company has been falling deeper into debt and rumors of layoffs & bankruptcy are flying around the office.
15. To be as ‘’blind as a bat’’- to have poor vision, a joke term meaning someone’s vision is so poor they must use sonar instead of their eyes to ‘’see’’ what is around them.
EXAMPLE: I’m blind as a bat without my glasses! I must wear them all the time in order to see clearly.
16. To be ‘’at the tail end’’ of something- to be at the end of something
EXAMPLE: I purchased my airline ticket at the last moment and therefore my seat was located at the tail end of the aircraft.
17. To be ‘’packed in like sardines’’- many people packed into a small area.
EXAMPLE: The heat was oppressive in the disco. We were packed in like sardines with no open windows. It was very hot and unpleasant. We left early and went for a walk on the beach instead of dancing.
18. To worm your way out of something- To avoid responsibility, to make excuses and leave before the job is finished
EXAMPLE: My brother was supposed to clean his room today but he wormed his way out of it by saying he had to study for a big exam on Monday.
19. Crocodile tears- fake tears, insincere emotions
Although they worked together for many years, Susan always hated Barbara. She was petty & jealous of everything Barbara had accomplished and spoke unkindly about her. When Barbara was fired from her job because of budget cuts, everyone in the office was sad. Susan cried crocodile tears. Everybody knew it was a false display of emotion because Susan had been so mean to Barbara.
20. Something ‘’smells fishy’’- Something sounds dishonest, to suspect someone of lying
EXAMPLE: Although John had a good excuse for arriving home at 3am, Barbara thought something ‘’smelled fishy’’. John had been spending a lot of time away from home lately and she suspected he may be having an affair with another woman.
21. To be ‘’sly as a fox’’- to be crafty, sneaky.
EXAMPLE: I never take my car to that mechanic! He’s as sly as a fox. If you go in for an oil change, you’ll leave with a new engine! He’s very good at finding ways to charge you extra money for simple jobs.
22. To be as ‘’slow as a snail’’- to move very slowly
EXAMPLE: I really need to purchase a new computer, the one I have is 10 years old and slow as a snail!
23. Snail mail- letters, cards and packages stamped & sent the traditional way using the postal service, instead of electronically through email.
EXAMPLE: My aunt Barbara prefers to send letters through snail mail. She’s never learned to use a computer. She laughs and says she’s too old to learn now.
24. To be a ‘’bull in a china shop’’- by using the word ‘’china’’ we refer to fine, delicate dishware (not the country of China). Expression to describe a person who is clumsy, rough, awkward, unsophisticated, destructive.
EXAMPLE: My brother is like a bull in a china shop! He’s so clumsy. My mother is always buying new dishes and glasses because my brother has a tendency to break everything he touches.
25. To be as ‘’strong as an ox’’- to be very strong, to have the strength of an ox.
My brother is an excellent athlete. He’s as strong as an ox! He’s very good in wrestling and weight lifting.
26. To be as ‘’stubborn as a mule’’- to be very stubborn, hard headed, unwilling to change opinion or listen to advice.
My sister’s car is a piece of junk. It’s always breaking down and costing her lots of money in repairs. I keep telling her to buy a new car but she’s as stubborn as a mule and refuses to listen to me. She thinks her old car is just fine.
- L2: BBC 6 minute English with transcript videos
- L1: extr@ English with subtitles
- L1: BBC The English We Speak with transcript videos
- L1: BBC Short and Easy Dramas with transcript videos
- L3: BBC Words in the News with transcript videos
- L1: BBC English at Work with transcript videos
- L1: BBC How to … with transcript videos
- L1: BBC 6 Minute Vocabulary with transcript videos
- L3: The Business of English Video Series
- L2: Study English – IELTS Preparation
- L1: Living English Video Series
- L2: The Secret Garden AudioBook
- L2: VOA American Stories
- L1: Listen to English – ESL British Podcasts
- L2: Reuters Short Videos
- L3: Pride and Prejudice AudioBook
- L3: VOA News transcript videos
- L3: CNN Student News with transcript
- Documentary Films with English Subtitles
- L2: Learn English with engvid ESL video lessons
Source: my American friendMore Series for You: