“Build your house on the rock”
Live your life in a well-established manner, with good foundations
“Every cloud has a silver lining.”
Every misfortune has its positive aspect.
A person’s calm exterior often conceals great depths of character, just as the deepest streams can have the smoothest surfaces.
“Ace in the hole”
MEANING: A hidden advantage or resource kept in reserve until needed: “The coach was certain that his new trick play would turn out to be his ace in the hole.”
This term comes from the game of stud poker, in which one or more cards are turned face down, or “in the hole,” as bets are placed. The ace is the card with the highest value.
“And thereby hangs a tale”
MEANING: An expression, taken from As You Like It by William Shakespeare, that means roughly “There’s a real story behind this.” It is commonly used by someone who is about to give the background of an interesting object, incident or idea: “The colonel remarked, ‘See that umbrella over the mantelpiece? It saved my life during the way, and thereby hangs a tale.”
“Bite the dust”
MEANING: Literally, to fall down in the dirt; to suffer a defeat: “Once again, the champion wins and another contender bites the dust.”
“Beyond the pale”
MEANING: Completely unacceptable: “His business practices have always been questionable, but this last takeover was beyond the pale.”
“That jacket costs an arm and a leg!” “His music career was a flash in the pan.” “When Marcia’s dad came home to the broken lamp, he really flew off the handle!”
These are things that many of us hear all the time, understand some of the time and perhaps would like to use more often: American cultural references, idioms and proverbs. However, there is really no formal training or education that passes these things on. It is simply derived from being a part of “American” culture. So what does it mean when America is a nation of immigrants? Who sets the standard? Apparently, such terms and phrases are things that “common” Americans are expected to know. Politicians use them in their speeches, members of “elite” institutions use them in conversations and even standardized tests apply them (oftentimes to the disadvantage of non-traditional test takers or students from immigrant backgrounds). It is easy to feel inadequate if one is stuck in a situation to feel ignorant about “American culture”, by default leading one to feel “inferior” to the American image.
Fear not, the Writing Success Program will present to you a different American Cultural Literacy idiom, proverb (“sayings” or phrases) and term every day! Just another reason why we rock. Write on RIGHT ON!