May 16

忙しいときに夜遅くまで働くことがあります。夜に石油ランプを使っていた17世紀では夜中まで働くときは「深夜の石油を燃やす」必要がありました。今は電気を使いますが、それでも遅くまで残業するときなどに「burn the midnight oil」という表現を使います。

Sometimes when you are very busy, you have to work late into the night. In the 1600s, when people used oil lamps for light at night, they had to “burn the midnight oil” in order to see their work late at night. Now we usually use electricity, but we still say things like, “We’ll have to burn the midnight oil,” if we have to work a lot of overtime.

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Apr 04

“I’m sure you two will be good friends.” 「あなたたちはきっといい友達になるでしょう。」

“In a pig’s eye! He’s a complete jerk.” 「まさか!彼は本当にひどい人よ。」


When someone talks about “a pig’s eye” it means they strongly disagree with what was just said. Maybe pigs have very bad judgement, so whatever they think they see is wrong!

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Feb 28

“Don’t worry about anything, just go for it! We’ve got your back!” 「心配しないでやってみろ!見守っているから!」

“I can focus on studying because my family has my back.” 「家族がサポートしてくれるから勉強に集中できます。」


Imagine a soldier. He can advance more easily if his allies protect him from attacks from the rear. They “have his back”. In many other areas of life, we can be more confident and focused if we know our friends will protect us from unexpected problems.

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Jan 31

“I told him he needs a receipt to return a purchase and he just flew off the handle.” 「返品するには領収証が必要だと言ったら急に怒り出した。」


If someone “flies off the handle”, they suddenly get very angry, or lose their temper. This phrase comes from around 1843. The image is an axe head flying off the handle. Imagine you swing an axe, but the head is not held on by glue or anything like that. The axe head flies off as you swing. This unpredictable accident can be very dangerous if it hits somebody!

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Dec 13

“That seems like too good of a deal. Are you sure there are no strings attached?” 「あまりにも良すぎる話ですが、本当に条件付きではないのですか?」


If someone gives you something with “no strings attached” it means there are no conditions or hidden fees. If you sign up for a free trial, but it turns out it’s only free if you buy something afterward, that’s a “string”.

「No strings attached」という表現はもしかして売られている布の小さな傷や不良を指すために使われる糸から来ると思われています。

The phrase “no strings attached” might come from strings used to mark flaws or defects in cloth being sold.

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Nov 15

“Sorry, I’m busy tonight. Can I take a rain check?” 「ごめん、今夜は時間ないんだ。また今度にしていい?」

Rain checkを頼んだら、相手の誘いを断りながら近い未来には受けたいと伝えます。例えば、友達にカフェにいかないかと誘われたけれど、仕事があっていけません。今日は一緒にコーヒーが飲めないけど近い家に是非いきたいという意味でrain checkを頼みます。

If you ask for a rain check, you turn down an invitation or offer, but with the message that you would like to accept in the future. For example, a friend asks you to go with them to a café this afternoon, but you have to work. You ask for a rain check, meaning that you can’t have coffee with your friend today, but you would like to do it sometime soon.

表現の由来は1890年代のアメリカです。野球の試合が雨で中止になったとき、チケットを買った人にあとで払わずに試合が観えるようにrain checkを配りました。

The phrase comes from the 1890s USA. “Rain checks” would be given to people who had paid to see a baseball game that was rained out, so that they could see a game later without paying.

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Oct 18

“Don’t worry. We’ve got this in the bag.” 「心配ない。もう勝ったも同然。」


If you have something “in the bag”, victory is certain. You haven’t played the game yet, but you are 100% sure you will win. You haven’t been told you’re getting a promotion yet, but you are positive that it’s already decided.

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Sep 13

“He’s a dyed-in-the-wool believer. You’ll never change his mind.” 「彼は根っからの信者だ。どんなに説得しても絶対に考え方を変えないでしょう。」


You might hear someone described as “dyed in the wool” if they have very strong and unshakeable belief in a certain idea. This phrase comes from yarn. We can dye yarn in different colors, so all our sweaters aren’t just white. If you dye the wool before spinning it into yarn, you can color it more thoroughly.

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Aug 02

“There’s no way we can beat such a strong team. We’re toast!” 「そんな強いチームに勝てないよ。おしまいだ!」

“My USB drive corrupted and all my files are toast.” 「USBのデータが壊れてファイルが全滅だ。」

“If the teacher sees you on your phone in class, you’re toast!” 「授業中に携帯使っているのを先生に見られたらヤバイぞ!」


People say something or someone is “toast” to mean they are doomed to failure, destroyed, or in trouble. It’s similar to “I’m dead” or “I’m doomed” but sounds less dark.

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Jul 05

“It’s a deal! Let’s shake on it!” 「取引成立!握手しよう!」

“There’s no way he wouldn’t hold up his end of the bargain. We shook on it!” 「約束を破るはずがない。だって握手したんだもん!」


When you make an agreement with someone, you might shake hands to seal the deal. It’s like a pinky promise, but adults can do it too—even businessmen.

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