“Speak of the devil” and other common expressions
A year ago, I wrote an article about some expressions that are common in English-speaking countries. Today I will add to that list, with a few more idioms that I definitely use from time to time.
Beat around the bush
This phrase means “deliberately avoiding the point”. It will commonly be used as a command with “stop” or “don’t” in order to tell someone to “get to the point” or “stop avoiding something“. Apparently, this term originates from hunters asking others to (literally) beat around bushes in order to move animals and birds.
Dad, I have to tell you something. You know I drove your car last night. Well, I was driving really carefully, as always. But, anyway, I was driving through the town centre, and it was quite busy. There were a lot of cars and-…
Stop beating around the bush. What happened?
I crashed the car.
Speak of the devil
As this saying compares a person to the devil, perhaps it might seem offensive – but it isn’t! It originates from an old superstition that people should not directly name the devil – as bad things will happen as a consequence. Today, it is used when a subject (especially a person) becomes visible soon after being mentioned. There is a very similar equivalent in Spanish: hablando de Roma…
“Yeah, I’ve been working on this project with Julie for the last few weeks”
– Julie enters the room –
“Speak of the devil!”
Best of Both Worlds
When discussing a problem with two possible solutions “the best of both worlds” can be used to show a positive compromise.
I wasn’t sure whether to go with design A or design B for the website, so I created my own. It has the colour scheme of design A and the layout of design B. The best of both worlds!
Better late than never
This one speaks for itself. If something has been expected to happen, and it does, but later than it should have been, then you can use this phrase.
The plumber arrived at 3 PM, although he had said he would arrive at 11 AM. “Better late than never”, Mrs Jones thought to herself.
On the ball
To show that someone is quick, understanding, observant, or good at adapting to tasks, ‘on the ball’ can be used as a description or compliment. It is particularly likely to be used in a place of work or in meaningful conversation but is only used in speaking, not writing.
– In a personal meeting with the boss –
” Simon, you’ve been doing great so far this year. I can tell you’ve been working great with your new team, and you’ve taken on your tasks with ease. You’re really on the ball. Keep up the good work! ”
Call it a day
When a decision is made that it is time to finish doing something, you might hear someone say that they will ‘call it a day’. It is a light way to say that it is time to stop.
You’ve been reading about English expressions for a long time. I think you should call it a day.
Fill the gaps with one of the following expressions
– Beat around the bush – Speak of the devil – Best of both worlds – Better late than never – On the ball – Call it a day –
- I highly recommend working with Gregory, he’s always _____________.
- It took me 40 minutes to get to grandma’s house because of the traffic. Oh well, __________________ I suppose.
- Is Fiona here yet? Oh _____________________________, there she is!
- We weren’t sure whether to go to the mountains or to the beach on holiday, but we found a place half an hour from the coast which is _______________________ .
- Come on, let’s __________ . I’m tired.
- Stop ____________________ and tell me what the problem is!
- I highly recommend working with Gregory, he’s always on the ball.
- It took me 40 minutes to get to grandma’s house because of the traffic. Oh well, better late than never I suppose.
- Is Fiona here yet? Oh, speak of the devil, there she is!
- We weren’t sure whether to go to the mountains or to the beach on holiday, but we found a place half an hour from the coast which is the best of both worlds.
- Come on, let’s call it a day. I’m tired.
- Stop beating around the bush and tell me what the problem is!
Do you have any questions about the expressions above? Are there any other expressions you’ve heard used, but aren’t sure about? Let us know in the comments section, and we will clarify for you!