In everyday speech, we use thousands of common or garden phrases without which we would often find ourselves with very little left to say. Most of them do not say, in so many words, what they mean. People do not actually put their foot in it or take the bull by the horns or strike while the iron is hot, but we understand what is meant when someone uses such a phrase in conversation, and it is often hard to put it any other way without losing some shade of meaning.All of these turns of phrase started somewhere in particular, often in connection with work, but they have caught on (hence the term catch phrase) with other people who have found a use for them in different situations. Some of them are ’classics’ and have lasted for hundreds of years, others come and go in a matter of months.The phrases included here form only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Most of them are presented as exercises arranged under rough topic headings. Some are singled out and their origin explained. Detailed answers are given in most cases. There is an index of all the phrases which appear in the book and a list of helpful reference books is included for readers who wish to find explanations for other phrases.
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