Friday 4 May 2012

Idioms that make no sense to me

Ever come across a saying that you've kind of scratched your head over? Maybe I'm too much of a literal creature, but some of the phrases that I hear in day to day life simply confuse the hell out of me.

"It's a double edged sword."

Have you ever heard somebody describe a situation as being like a "double edged sword", when trying to convey that there's an upside and a downside to whichever concept they're referring to? You know, a Win/Lose situation? Maybe I'll let Merriam-Webster explain the definition, seeing as it's their job and all.

Something that has or can have both favorable and unfavorable consequences. E.g "Freedom of expression … can be a double-edged sword" Linda Connors
Can you please do me a favour and think about this for a moment? The expression is a double edged sword, not a double ended sword. In fact, there's no such think as a double ended sword as far as I know. There is, however, double edged swords and they are not as much as a nuisance as the saying would have you think.

Let  me explain with imagery.

From no angle can this be viewed as a Win/Lose situation.
A Win/Lose angle is generally associated with one person or entity. One perspective might be a better way to put it. So, assuming that killing is what the wielder intends to do with the sword, "WINNING" is what a double edged sword is. For the defender, "LOSING" is what is happening.

There is possibly only one way that the Win/Lose logic can work. Perhaps the defender is getting shanked by a normal sword, and thinks to himself,

"LOSE! I am getting shanked by a sword, and this hurts a lot!
But, WIN! At least it isn't a double edged sword, that'd hurt way worse!"

"The more, the merrier!"

I won't whinge about this one long, just long enough to point out that it annoys me. I know explicitly what it means, it just irritates me grammatically.


When ever I see this expression typed, it is spelt like above "What's in a name?", hyphen separated. Why? Nobody says it like this, do they? I've never heard it. I've heard "What's-a-name", "What's-his-name" and "What's-her-name", but never "Whats-in-a-name."

Me? I prefer to substitute the suffix. "What's-his-face?" is generally the expression I personally use when grasping for a name and failing.

"It's the dog's bollocks!"

How did it come to be that something great is described as being "the dog's bollocks". Since when were canine balls elevated to a pedestal of comparison to anything? Actually, I don't want to know when, I want to know who?!

Who's going around looking at stuff, and mentally comparing it to whether or not it stacks up to the incredible level of quality of balls in a dog's scrotum?

I want to know who it is so I can be sure to avoid attending their mixers, 'cause they sound exactly like a person who I don't want to be friends with.


  1. Funny, but I think I can explain the 'Dog's Bollocks'.

    From the perspective of a Dog, his balls must seem pretty damn awesome given the amount of time he spends licking them.

  2. I agree with your rampant tenacity at how ludicrous they all are, but I can see where they all come from. I shall sit on the fence until the cows come home!

  3. I've never heard anything described as being the dog's bollocks.

    Now I have to live with the knowledge that people are out there...

    saying that...