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July 12, 2012

"Home Run!", "Touch Down" And Other American Sports Idioms

Americans love idioms - especially sports idioms. If you are attempting to learn - or teach American English, you have to master...

...the peculiar arena of sports idioms.

As with every other aspect of American English, sports idioms are a world unto themselves.

You may have noticed that I rarely use sports idioms, but the reality is that if you want a near universal image or metaphor, sports metaphors are nearly the lingua franca of American pop culture.

Sports are inherently competitive, and Americans in particular, love the clash and clamor of sports teams and their fans (and sometimes their mascots).

To "drop the ball" basically means to mess up or not follow through. This term could come from any of a number of games that use a ball, but it implies that someone 'dropped the ball' instead of earning a point with it.

In the game of billiards for example, to 'put a little English' on the ball means to put an extra 'spin' or curve on it. And in baseball, a 'curve ball' is a ball that seems to be pitched straight but curves just out of reach of the batter so the batter is likely to strike out. To 'throw someone a curve' means to mislead or deceive someone.

A 'home run' is a clear and distinct victory. It is used many times in a sales setting when a difficult sale has been completed.

Here's another column on this topic with a few more examples - http://www.expressingyourselfinenglish.com/2012/03/american-idioms-use-sports-metaphors-as.html?goback=.gde_3759140_member_102698935.

You won't get any 'curve balls' here - just solid, reliable, and, I hope, helpful information.

As always, send us any words or phrases that make you crazy and be sure to let us know what it is about English and language learning that you find confounding, infuriating or endlessly intriguing.

Listen, read and speak. Make your new language your own.

My best to you as you make your way through this intriguing , constantly shifting linguistic landscape.


Also, Morf just might be available to visit your school or agency this coming September. You can contact him at mmorf@mail.com. He's always interested in talking about words, films, music and American culture in general.

Posted by mmorf at July 12, 2012 10:52 PM


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