Idioms with People’s Names. Part 2

Idioms with People’s Names. Part 2

Who’s a Typhoid Mary and an Old Bill? Do you agree a good Jack makes a good Jill? Did you do fine in your job when you were a Johny-come-lately? Read on to know exactly what the questions mean…

  1. The real McCoy – the original or best example of something

Example: The caviar was the real McCoy too – not the stuff we buy in the supermarket at home.


2. Johny-come-lately – a late or recent arrival; newcomer

Example: In the eyes of his colleagues, he is something of a Johnny-come-lately.


3. To rob Peter to pay Paul – to pay a debt, obligation, etc. by creating or leaving unpaid another

Example: Sometimes he was moving money from one account to another, robbing Peter to pay Paul.


4. A peeping Tom – a person who derives sexual pleasure from secretly watching people undressing or engaging in sexual activity

Example: She helped the police to catch a peeping Tom.


5. To live the life of Riley – to lead a life of great ease, comfort, or luxury

Example: Even those who live the life of Riley are not always happy.


6. To take the mickey (out of someone) (British English) – to make fun of someone, usually in an unkind way

Example: He started taking the mickey out of this poor man just because he is bald. 


7. Even-steven – 1) having an equal chance/score; 2) having no balance of debt on either side

Examples: 1) The race was an even-steven affair. 2) Just buy me a drink and we’re even-steven.


8. Uncle Sam – a personification of the federal government or citizens of the US

Example: Most Americans easily recognize Uncle Sam as a symbol of the United States or a national nickname. 


9. John Bull – a personification of England or the typical Englishman

Example: John Bull is traditionally depicted as a fat man wearing a waistcoat with the British flag on it.


10. Holy Joe – 1) a clergyman (priest, minister, etc.); 2) a pious (religious) person

Examples: 1) Her father is a Holy Joe working at a local church. 2) She is a Holy Joe and wouldn’t hurt a fly.


11. A good Jack makes a good Jill. Meaning: If a husband treats his wife well, she will treat him well in return.

Example: Express love and care for your wife. A good Jack makes a good Jill.


12. Plain Jane (derogatory) – an unattractive girl or woman

Example: What are these plain-jane looks about?


13. Full of Old Nick – apt to get into trouble (Old Nick is an old-fashioned name for the devil in Christianity)

Example: Of course the kids got into the paint – they were full of Old Nick today.


14. Old Bill (British English) – 1) a police officer; 2) law enforcement

Examples: 1) I’ve been an old Bill for decades – don’t think such things can surprise me. 2) You can’t hide from the Old Bill.


15. To open Pandora’s box – to uncover a lot of unsuspected problems

Example: You should be cautious with people who are upset. You don’t want to open Pandora’s box.


16. Queen Anne is dead! Meaning: a response made to someone who has relayed stale news or stated the obvious

Example: 1) Guess what! Mike has lost his job! – Queen Anne is dead! Everyone knows that already. 2) That Johny-come-lately could work a bit harder, I think. – Queen Anne is dead! I’ve been redoing his work for a month now.


17. A Jezebel – an evil, scheming (making secret plans), shameless or immoral woman, especially one who uses physical attractiveness to evil ends

Example: What a Jezebel! Poor John fell in love with her and she used that to her advantage!


18. Typhoid /’tʌɪfɔɪd/ Mary – a transmitter of undesirable opinions or attitudes

Example: You treat me like I’m some kind of Typhoid Mary, but it’s your own mismanagement that has brought ruin to this farm.


19. All my eye (and Betty Martin) – nonsense

Example: He pretends to have great plans, but they’re all my eye and Betty Martin.


20. No way Jose! Meaning: 1) absolutely not; 2) used to express disbelief

Example: 1) Can I play with your toys? – No way Jose! 2) I can stand on my head. – No way Jose.

Practice

Click the link here and choose the right word to complete each sentence.

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