BBC Learning English: The English We Speak – Frogmarch phrase means means to force someone who is unwilling to move forward or to walk somewhere, often by holding their arms tightly.
Rob challenges Helen to a word game to work out a funny sounding phrase. It’s about a style of walk and means to force someone who is unwilling to move forward, to walk somewhere but what has it got to do with frogs?
Rob: Hello and welcome to The English We Speak from BBC Learning English. I’m Rob.
Helen: Hello, I’m Helen. This is the programme where we try to help you understand language often heard in English conversations.
Rob: Well, I went to a presentation this morning and I heard a word that made me laugh.
Helen: What is it?
Rob: See if you can guess, Helen. Let’s play a word game. Are you ready?
Helen: Yes I am.
Rob: OK. Well, It’s made up of two words and the first word is a cute little animal.
Rob: And if you kiss this animal, it may turn into a prince.
Helen: I know this one. If you kiss a frog, it turns into a prince. The first word is ‘frog’.
Rob: Well done. The second word is the type of walk that soldiers do.
Helen: Easy – marching.
Rob: You got it. I heard the word ‘frogmarch’ this morning. And do you know what we call a lot of frogs together?
Helen: A school of frogs?
Helen: A herd of frogs?
Rob: No, it’s an ‘army’ of frogs. I just have this cartoon picture in my mind of an army of frogs all wearing boots and marching down the river.
Helen: Oh that’s hilarious. But what does ‘frogmarch’ really mean? Surely it’s not a way of marching.
Rob: No, ‘to frogmarch’ means to force someone who is unwilling to move forward or to walk somewhere, often by holding their arms tightly. Here are some examples.
- The drunken suspect was handcuffed by the police and frogmarched to the waiting police van.
- In major sporting events, if you disrupt the game, you risk being frogmarched out of the stadium by security guards.
Helen: Ouch, that’s pretty harsh, isn’t it? So how did you hear it used?
Rob: The presenter told us that his lecture on social dynamics was a must for everyone and so we either all had to sign up voluntarily or he would frogmarch us there himself.
Helen: Oh, that’s a threat.
Rob: Exactly, so of course we all signed up.
Helen: Very effective. The next time I want full attendance, I’ll know exactly what to say.
Rob: Frogmarching someone? Well, make sure you have enough people to do the job. It usually takes at least two people to frogmarch one person. Bye bye.
The English We Speak – Frogmarch Transcript Video
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