Idioms that don't make sense

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Idioms that don't make sense

Postby Anonymously Famous » Tue Sep 20, 2011 2:30 am UTC

"I could care less." (A variation of a saying that makes a lot more sense.)
"He made it by the skin of his teeth."

What other sayings have you heard that would simply sound ridiculous if you thought about them enough?
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby Lazar » Tue Sep 20, 2011 2:35 am UTC

To want to have one's cake and eat it too. The idiom implies that it's excessive to combine the two aims; but the only purpose of cake is to be eaten. If I have a cake, it's entirely reasonable and probable that I'm going to eat it. Why else would I have it or want to have it?
"Do you wear wigs?" "Have you worn wigs?" "Will you wear wigs?" "When will you wear wigs?"
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby darthchazza » Tue Sep 20, 2011 3:47 am UTC

To initiate a food fight?
Flo3:16 wrote:You sir are a Winner. Just because you have the testicular fortitude to dress up as freakin Zoidberg. :mrgreen:
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby Iulus Cofield » Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:07 am UTC

ITT: ALL the idioms!

Lazar wrote:To want to have one's cake and eat it too. The idiom implies that it's excessive to combine the two aims; but the only purpose of cake is to be eaten. If I have a cake, it's entirely reasonable and probable that I'm going to eat it. Why else would I have it or want to have it?


I didn't understand this expression until I was about 12. I understood "have [food item]" to mean "eat [food item]". So...yeah.
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby tesseraktik » Tue Sep 20, 2011 8:13 am UTC

Lazar wrote:To want to have one's cake and eat it too. The idiom implies that it's excessive to combine the two aims; but the only purpose of cake is to be eaten. If I have a cake, it's entirely reasonable and probable that I'm going to eat it. Why else would I have it or want to have it?
Having a cake means having the option to eat it in the future; eating it means sacrificing that option.
If you could have your cake and eat it, too, you'd only have to buy half as many cakes as you do now... ...or perhaps you could just re-use the same cake over and over again*?

A Swedish one: Att läga rabarber på någonting - "To put rhubarbs on something" - To steal something

*I'm assuming that the cake is placed in stasis.
ni'o mi nelci le zirpu sovmabrnornitorinku
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EDIT: I looked it up on Wikipedia. Apparently it's some ancient Babylonian unit for angles :/
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby AvatarIII » Tue Sep 20, 2011 8:43 am UTC

Lazar wrote:To want to have one's cake and eat it too. The idiom implies that it's excessive to combine the two aims; but the only purpose of cake is to be eaten. If I have a cake, it's entirely reasonable and probable that I'm going to eat it. Why else would I have it or want to have it?


i think it's more about potential to eat.

like say you win the lottery, you can either spend the winnings, or save/invest them for later, (but you're not allowed to spend half of them and save half of them, because i say so) it's the same thing really, the concept of wanting something both now and later, when it is impossible to do so. (lottery winnings was a bad example, but i couldn't really think of anything that wasn't really divisible)
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby Oflick » Tue Sep 20, 2011 8:58 am UTC

Anonymously Famous wrote:"I could care less." (A variation of a saying that makes a lot more sense.)


You might like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=om7O0MFkmpw&ob=av3e

"It's like comparing apples and oranges". They're pretty similar. I guess it rolls of the tongue better than "it's like comparing apples and irony", though.
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby AvatarIII » Tue Sep 20, 2011 9:10 am UTC

Oflick wrote:
Anonymously Famous wrote:"I could care less." (A variation of a saying that makes a lot more sense.)


You might like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=om7O0MFkmpw&ob=av3e

"It's like comparing apples and oranges". They're pretty similar. I guess it rolls of the tongue better than "it's like comparing apples and irony", though.


Another one that rolls off the tongue is "they go together like Chalk and Cheese" in what way exactly do Chalk and Cheese not go together? I'm sure chalk goes equally badly, or worse, with most edible things, and I think I'd rather have a mouthful of chalk and cheese than sand and cheese for example,
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby Makri » Tue Sep 20, 2011 9:27 am UTC

in what way exactly do Chalk and Cheese not go together?


In precisely the way that edibles that go well together go well together, no?

I've always been baffled by the cake thing. The explanation where "have" actually means "keep" (sort of) makes sense, though.
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby GhostWolfe » Tue Sep 20, 2011 10:10 am UTC

AvatarIII wrote:
Lazar wrote:To want to have one's cake and eat it too.
i think it's more about potential to eat... the concept of wanting something both now and later, when it is impossible to do so.
Lazar wrote:If I have a cake, it's entirely reasonable and probable that I'm going to eat it. Why else would I have it or want to have it?
But if you eat it, you don't have it any more & can no longer eat it. It's similar to "waste not, want not".

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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby AvatarIII » Tue Sep 20, 2011 10:14 am UTC

Makri wrote:
in what way exactly do Chalk and Cheese not go together?


In precisely the way that edibles that go well together go well together, no?

I've always been baffled by the cake thing. The explanation where "have" actually means "keep" (sort of) makes sense, though.


well yeah, my point is that there are many things that go together worse than chalk and cheese. i regularly have Rennie and Cheddar sandwiches...
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby GhostWolfe » Tue Sep 20, 2011 10:26 am UTC

For one, both "chalk" & "cheese" are simple ideas that translate reasonably across cultures. Everyone knows what they are. I don't know what "Rennie" is.

Secondly, "chalk" & "cheese" both start with the same sound, making them roll off the tongue better as a pairing.

/angell
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby AvatarIII » Tue Sep 20, 2011 10:30 am UTC

GhostWolfe wrote:For one, both "chalk" & "cheese" are simple ideas that translate reasonably across cultures. Everyone knows what they are. I don't know what "Rennie" is.

Secondly, "chalk" & "cheese" both start with the same sound, making them roll off the tongue better as a pairing.

/angell


Rennie is an antacid tablet, so essentially chalk.

and yes they roll of the tongue well, which is why i bought it up, it's like the rolling off the tongue is more important than the idiom making sense.
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby Oflick » Tue Sep 20, 2011 12:01 pm UTC

GhostWolfe wrote:
AvatarIII wrote:
Lazar wrote:To want to have one's cake and eat it too.
i think it's more about potential to eat... the concept of wanting something both now and later, when it is impossible to do so.
Lazar wrote:If I have a cake, it's entirely reasonable and probable that I'm going to eat it. Why else would I have it or want to have it?
But if you eat it, you don't have it any more & can no longer eat it. It's similar to "waste not, want not".

/angell


Personally, I can't see much difference between having cake and not eating it, and not having cake and not eating it. Either way you're not eating it.
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby Gigano » Tue Sep 20, 2011 1:21 pm UTC

From Dutch:

"De kat uit de boom kijken."

Literally meaning; to look a cat out of the tree (i.e. removing a cat from a tree by the act of looking at the cat). It's supposed to mean something like, passively waiting for someone else to do something in a particular situation. But I find the act of 'looking' a cat out of a tree to be utter nonsense, and it doesn't really convey the meaning of the idiom even metaphorically.
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby Felstaff » Tue Sep 20, 2011 1:35 pm UTC

"couldn't hit a $large_object with a $handheld_object"

  1. Large objects including "barn door" amongst other trochee nouns
  2. Handheld objects most notably "banjo" amongst other trochee nouns

I can get the not hitting the large object part. If it's large (say, the size of a barn door), it's easy to hit/harder to miss than hit. But why the banjo? They're not traditionally used to hit things with, and would be quite unwieldy to hit with anyway, as it would require gripping them in a way they are not designed to be brandished. Thus, it would make coordination tougher, increasing the odds of missing the barn door, even if you were a professional racqueteer, your chances of missing would increase, which defeats the object of the idiom.

Mentally I picture someone using a banjo as a tennis racquet to hit a tennis ball at a barn-door target, as opposed to the literal striking of the barn door with the banjo itself. That image is confusing. To what purpose would you serve by hitting a barn door with a banjo? Unless you had a deep-seated loathing of stringed instruments, or sympathised with the protagonists in Deliverance, the act of breaking a banjo upon a door has no merit, particularly when the point being made is 'you are a poor marksman'.

"You are such a poor shot you couldn't hit this large target with an unorthodox club"

It takes an element of exaggeration away from the insult, to be honest.
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby phlip » Tue Sep 20, 2011 1:46 pm UTC

Regarding "have one's cake and eat it too"... has no-one else had the experience where shortly after eating some cake, and you're all "man, I want more cake... but I don't have any cake any more :("

When you have cake, you're all "woo, whenever I want, I can have some cake!", and then you eat it, and you're all "yay, cake!", but then after that, you're all "aww, but now I don't have cake."
Hence the expression meaning "to want to get the positive consequences of a thing, but avoid the negative consequences; particularly when deciding whether or not to do the thing."
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby Anonymously Famous » Tue Sep 20, 2011 2:58 pm UTC

"Stick to him like white on rice." I guess, in a way, since the color is permanent... but colors don't stick to things.
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby Schrottrocker » Wed Sep 21, 2011 12:34 am UTC

Excuse me, I never got the idea behind this chalk & cheese saying. Besides the sound of the words, what is the connection between cheese and chalk? Who would ever eat chalk?...
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Sep 21, 2011 1:11 am UTC

Don't underestimate the significance of how words sound.
Treatid basically wrote:widdout elephants deh be no starting points. deh be no ZFC.


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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby GhostWolfe » Wed Sep 21, 2011 6:51 am UTC

Felstaff wrote:"couldn't hit a $large_object with a $handheld_object"
It has been my experience that $handheld_object usually refers to something that's relatively easy to hit some other thing with. Assuming even a below average level of coordination, one should be able to hit something as large as a barn as they stand directly before it swinging a banjo.

Though, to highlight the difference between the ease of hitting $large_object & the ease of hitting something with $handheld_object, I tend to say things like "couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with a guided missile".

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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby Derek » Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:40 am UTC

GhostWolfe wrote:Though, to highlight the difference between the ease of hitting $large_object & the ease of hitting something with $handheld_object, I tend to say things like "couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with a guided missile".

Depends on the guidance system. I don't expect that a barn produces much of a thermal signature.
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby Sandor » Wed Sep 21, 2011 1:14 pm UTC

AvatarIII wrote:Another one that rolls off the tongue is "they go together like Chalk and Cheese" in what way exactly do Chalk and Cheese not go together?

I've never heard "chalk and cheese" used with "go together". I would say "they are like chalk and cheese" meaning two things/people that are quite different (perhaps also implying a superficial similarity).

An idiom that doesn't really make sense to me is "cheap at half the price" meaning very cheap.
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby Grop » Wed Sep 21, 2011 1:21 pm UTC

The French equivalent of "you couldn't hit the broad side of a barn" would be "Tu raterais un éléphant dans un couloir" -> "You would miss an elephant in a corridor".

An elephant is probably easy to aim at, but how is it supposed to be easier in a corridor than in the open?
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby Felstaff » Wed Sep 21, 2011 1:31 pm UTC

Ricochet!
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby PM 2Ring » Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:18 pm UTC

It's harder for the elephant to dodge.
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:21 pm UTC

Elephants are probably Large or even Huge, and so would have to squeeze through a corridor, which iirc removes any Dex bonus to AC.

Ergo, easier to hit.
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby Derek » Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:41 pm UTC

Sandor wrote:An idiom that doesn't really make sense to me is "cheap at half the price" meaning very cheap.

In this case the original idiom actually means "expensive" (ie, the item would be cheap, if it cost half as much). The above definition comes from a misunderstanding of the original meaning.

This kind of thing seems to be common with idioms.
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby ShootTheChicken » Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:42 pm UTC

More x than you can shake a stick at.

And also 'It's cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey'. But I had that one explained to me and it appears to make sense.
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby Grop » Wed Sep 21, 2011 6:44 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Elephants are probably Large or even Huge, and so would have to squeeze through a corridor, which iirc removes any Dex bonus to AC.

Ergo, easier to hit.


That totally makes sense.
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby PAstrychef » Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:35 pm UTC

Sandor wrote:
AvatarIII wrote:Another one that rolls off the tongue is "they go together like Chalk and Cheese" in what way exactly do Chalk and Cheese not go together?

I've never heard "chalk and cheese" used with "go together". I would say "they are like chalk and cheese" meaning two things/people that are quite different (perhaps also implying a superficial similarity).

An idiom that doesn't really make sense to me is "cheap at half the price" meaning very cheap.

Chalk and cheese, as least some cheeses, look very similar, but that's as far as it goes. In one Irish story the hero fools a giant by squeezing a cheese the giant thinks is a rock, and then convinces the giant to eat seven rocks the hero says are cheese. I guess this just proves that giants have poor eyesight.
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby PM 2Ring » Fri Sep 23, 2011 5:01 pm UTC

PAstrychef wrote:Chalk and cheese, as least some cheeses, look very similar, but that's as far as it goes.
They're also both high in calcium. :)

PAstrychef wrote:In one Irish story the hero fools a giant by squeezing a cheese the giant thinks is a rock, and then convinces the giant to eat seven rocks the hero says are cheese. I guess this just proves that giants have poor eyesight.
I remember that story.
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby distractedSofty » Sat Sep 24, 2011 12:10 am UTC

Derek wrote:
Sandor wrote:An idiom that doesn't really make sense to me is "cheap at half the price" meaning very cheap.

In this case the original idiom actually means "expensive" (ie, the item would be cheap, if it cost half as much). The above definition comes from a misunderstanding of the original meaning.

This kind of thing seems to be common with idioms.

I think you're missing a step: the original idiom was likely "cheap at twice the price"(which is still common), and the half version was formed from it to express a feeling of getting ripped off (and then misunderstood as you say. It's probably similar to "could[n't] care less").

ShootTheChicken wrote:More x than you can shake a stick at.

I always have a vision of a man with tophat and monacle (and of course, a cane)

Monacled Man #1: "My, this certainly is a lot of nondescript crated merchandise being unloaded by my good stevedoring friends." *waves cane in grand sweeping motion*
MM #2: "Join with me on this venture that I'm proposing, my good chap, and you'll have more nondescript crated merchandise than you can shake your stick at."

It probably actually means "more than you can count", implying that you would point to each x as you counted it. (Much like just about anyone who has to count anything while holding a clipboard will point with their pen.)
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby wannabe » Thu Sep 29, 2011 8:13 pm UTC

I always think of having one's cake and eating it too referring to wedding cake or some other pretty highly decorated cake that makes it a shame to put a knife into it and cut it. But you want to eat it and you can't eat it if you don't destroy it.

This one's pretty crude but I never really understood:

Spoiler:
I fucked her lights out. was it so good she was blind after or what?
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby Gigano » Thu Sep 29, 2011 10:28 pm UTC

wannabe wrote:This one's pretty crude but I never really understood:

Spoiler:
I fucked her lights out. was it so good she was blind after or what?


Twisted answer:

Spoiler:
Maybe you fucked her so hard, her head was shaken repeatedly causing serious damage to her occipital lobe, rendering her in effect blind. Or you got her so excited the increased blood pressure caused the brain arteries to rupture, causing posterior haemorrhage, also rendering her blind.
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby bigglesworth » Thu Sep 29, 2011 10:31 pm UTC

*Lights out* means the darkness associated with loss of vision before unconsciousness. :|
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby goofy » Fri Sep 30, 2011 8:40 pm UTC

bigglesworth wrote:*Lights out* means the darkness associated with loss of vision before unconsciousness. :|


No... "lights" is an old word for "lungs". The phrase was originally "scare the liver and lights out".

1884 ‘M. Twain’ Adventures Huckleberry Finn xxix. 259 It most scared the livers and lights out of me.
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby Gigano » Sat Oct 01, 2011 10:25 am UTC

goofy wrote:
bigglesworth wrote:*Lights out* means the darkness associated with loss of vision before unconsciousness. :|


No... "lights" is an old word for "lungs". The phrase was originally "scare the liver and lights out".

1884 ‘M. Twain’ Adventures Huckleberry Finn xxix. 259 It most scared the livers and lights out of me.


What about "scaring the living daylights out of someone"? It is said that daylights is 18th century slang for someone's eyes.
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby goofy » Sat Oct 01, 2011 2:45 pm UTC

Gigano wrote:What about "scaring the living daylights out of someone"? It is said that daylights is 18th century slang for someone's eyes.


You're right. Maybe the two idioms have combined.
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Re: Idioms that don't make sense

Postby Gigano » Sat Oct 01, 2011 10:27 pm UTC

goofy wrote:
Gigano wrote:What about "scaring the living daylights out of someone"? It is said that daylights is 18th century slang for someone's eyes.


You're right. Maybe the two idioms have combined.


Quite possible. Languages can be weird and messy in that way.
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