By Paola Pascual on Jun 3, 2022 1:33:27 PM
It's hard to join a business meeting and not hear an idiom. In this post, we've collected common food idioms that we hear at work often. Before you keep reading, do this little game. Listen to the podcast episode above and pay attention to the short story at the beginning. The goal is for you to count all the food idioms you hear. Then, drop your number in the comment.
1) Walk on eggshells 🚶🍳
Meaning: To have to act very sensitively to avoid offending someone.
Example: I’m always walking on eggshells when I meet with Amir. He has good ideas, but he gets angry so easily.
2) Spill the beans 🙊
Meaning: Reveal a secret.
Example: I had planned to surprise my sister, but my mom spilled the beans!
3) In a nutshell 🥜
Meaning: In just a few words.
Example: In a nutshell, I quit my job.
4) Bad egg 🥚
Meaning: Someone who does bad things or who you don’t trust
Example: Anna is a bad egg. Don’t trust her. // He was dishonest, but he was the only bad egg in the group.
5) Hard nut to crack 🌰
Meaning: A difficult problem or a difficult person
Example: This problem is getting me down. It’s a hard nut to crack.
6) Put all my eggs in one basket 🧺🥚
Meaning: Rely on a unique course of events, on a unique venture or stream of income. Risk everything to the success or failure of one thing.
Example: We need to be more tactical and not put all our eggs in one basket.
7) Low-hanging fruit 🍑
Meaning: Easy tasks, the most easily achieved of a set of tasks, measures, goals, etc.
Example: This marketing campaign was a success. Now sales should focus on the low hanging fruit and close as many deals as possible.
8) Sell like hot cakes ♨️ 🍰
Meaning: Sell quickly and in large quantities.
Example: The tickets are selling like hot cakes.
9) Bite off more than you can chew 🌯
Meaning: Try to do more than one is capable of doing.
Example: That’s a huge project. Are you sure you want to be in charge? Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
10) A tough cookie 🍪
Meaning: A very determined person.
Example: Our principal was a little lady, but she was one tough cookie! / Don't worry about him—he's a tough cookie.
11) Too many cooks spoil the broth 👩🍳👨🍳
Meaning: A project works best if there is input from a limited number of people.
Example: I would’ve loved to have joined but you have too many people on board already and too many cooks spoil the broth.
12) You can't have your cake and eat it, too 🎂
Meaning: You can't enjoy both of two desirable but mutually exclusive alternatives (can’t have your own business, take care of everything, succeed, and also not be tired).
13) Take with a grain of salt 🧂🤏🏼
Meaning: Be a bit skeptical about it. Only believe part of it. (UK version: take with a grain of salt.)
Example: Take everything she says with a grain of salt because she tends to exaggerate.
14) Greatest thing since sliced bread 🍞
Meaning: Something is the best and most useful innovation or development invented for a long time.
Example: I bought this gadget that allows me to open my house door from my phone. It's the greatest thing since sliced bread!
15) The icing on the cake 🍰
Meaning: Something that makes a good situation even better. (In the US, also: the frosting on the cake.)
Example: I love my job, and getting that raise was the icing on the cake.
16) Food for thought 💭
Meaning: Something worth thinking seriously about.
Example: Thank you for your suggestion – it gave us a lot of food for thought.
17) Like two peas in a pod 👯♂️
Meaning: Very similar, especially in appearance.
Example: The twins are like two peas in a pod.
18) Cherry-pick 🍒
Meaning: Choose and take only the most beneficial or profitable items or opportunities from what is available.
Example:Policymakers will cherry-pick ideas from the study, and commit to implementing only the easiest and cheapest ones.
19) Have bigger fish to fry 🐟
Meaning: To have something more important to do.
Example: It's really not worth my time. I've got bigger fish to fry!
Practice Food Idioms
Fill the blanks with one word. Then, listen to the episode to check your answers.
I’ve been walking on __ lately, but I couldn’t wait to spill the __. So, in a __, I quit my job last month and started my own business. I liked my job, but there was a bad __ on the team that made my job miserable. Ah, team dynamics are such a hard __ to crack.
So I decided to put all my __ in one basket and start selling my paintings. Selling art is not what you would call low-hanging __, hey? But guess what? They’re selling like hot __!
I’m doing it everything with my sister. I love that it’s just the two of us. I just hope we didn’t __ off more than we can __, but I’m a tough __. And, you know, too many __ spoil the __. It’s going to be extremely tiring, but you can’t have your __ and __ it too.
There are many more food idioms. Tell us what we missed in the comments section!
Keep improving your communication skills for the workplace
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Talaera Talks - Transcript Episode 50
If you are learning English, including new English words and expressions will help you with effective communication. Remember to check out our other episodes on how to make small talk, how to deliver engaging presentations, how to speak English fluently, and many more: visit the podcast website. Listen to it on your favorite platform.
Welcome to Talaera Talks, the business English communication podcast for non-native professionals. My name is Paola and I am co-hosting this show with Simon. In this podcast, we're going to be covering communication advice and tips to help express yourself with confidence in English in professional settings. So we hope you enjoy the show!
Paola Pascual 0:24
Hi, this is Paola and I hope wherever you are, you're having a wonderful day. What I have for you today is something we haven't done in a while, it will just be myself talking to you. And what I have collected is business idioms. I know many of you really enjoy learning idioms and expressions in English. And today the topic will be food. So even though this these are food idioms, we actually use them for work, you know, for professional and business settings. So we'll start with a fragment little story that I created with where I added quite a few food idioms. And so the goal of the game is for you to try to spot all of them. So every time you hear one, raise a finger, and let me know at the end how many you were able to spot. Okay, are you ready? Here we go.
Paola Pascual 1:21
Hi, Max. So there's something I wanted to tell you. I've been walking on eggshells lately, but I couldn't wait to spill the beans. So in a nutshell, I quit my job last month and started my own business. I liked my job. But there was this bad egg on the team that made my job miserable. Ha, team dynamics are such a hard nut to crack. So I decided to put all my eggs in one basket and start selling my paintings. Selling art is not what you would call low hanging fruit, hey? But guess what? They're selling like hot cakes. I'm doing it with my sister. I love that it's just the two of us. I hope we didn't bite off more than we can too. But well, you know, I'm a tough cookie. And, you know, too many cooks spoil the broth. Anyway, it's going to be extremely tiring, I know. But you can't have your cake and eat it too.
Paola Pascual 2:24
Okay, that's the end of the fragment. How many were you able to spot? So they were actually 12? Yeah, I tried to just stuffed 12 Food idioms into that little fragment I told you. Now remember, we don't talk like that always in English. Try to use some of them. But not all of them at the same time. Otherwise, it would sound very odd and very hard to understand, especially for not for other non native English speakers. So let's have a look at them. The first one that I that I said was walking on eggshells, I told you who had been walking on eggshells lately. And that means to have a need to act very sensitively, so that you don't offend others. So you you're very careful. Try not to offend others. For example, I'm always walking on eggshells when I meet with Amir hints. You know, he has good ideas, but he gets angry so easily. So I need to walk on eggshells. I need to be careful. The second one was spilled the beans to reveal a secret. For example, I had planned to surprise my sister, but my mom spilled the beans, you know she revealed the secret number three in a nutshell. If you imagine a nutshell is very small, so only a few words fit in there. So when you say in a nutshell, it means in just a few words, summarizing, like in my little story I told you. Well, in a nutshell, I quit my job. Number four is a bad egg. We don't use this one so often, but it's good for you to know the meaning. And it's just someone will use this when we want to refer to someone who does bad things or who you don't trust. For example, Anna is a bad egg. Don't trust her.
Paola Pascual 4:23
Number five is a hard nut to crack. I was telling you that you know there was this bad egg on my team that made my job miserable. And then I said team dynamics are such a hard nut to crack. It means they are a difficult problem. They're they're so hard to solve. And yeah, another example of a hard nut to crack would be this problem is getting me down. It's hard not to crack. It's very difficult. Number six to put all my eggs in one basket, I think there are similar idioms and other languages as well. And it means to rely on a unique course of events or to rely on a unique source of income is when you risk everything to the success, or the failure of just one thing. And for example, here's another example. We need to be more tactical, and not put all our eggs in one basket. Like with the story that I told you where I put everything you know, I put all my eggs in one basket. That's a little risky. Number seven, low hanging fruit. If you work in sales you I'm sure you've heard this one, it means to go for the easy ones. First, the easy tasks, the easy measures and goals and you know, the easy customer, right start with those, close the deal, and then move on to the next thing. Number eight selling like hotcakes, it means to sell quickly and in large quantities. So in my story, the the paintings that I was selling, were selling like hotcakes. So I was being very successful. Another example would be the tickets are selling like hotcakes. All right. Number nine, to bite off more than you can, too. This one is very visual. If you bite off more than you can, too. You know, it's so hard to actually manage. And it's when you try to do more than what you're capable of doing. For example, that's a huge project. Are you sure you want to be in charge? Don't bite off more than you can too. I do that sometimes I do tend to bite off more than I can chew. Oh, well. Something to work on. Number 10. A tough cookie. I said this one quite a bit. And it's when you refer to a determined person. It's someone who it's they're trying and trying and they'll get it. And this could be for work. But it could also be for physical activity, it's when you really can put up with what life throws at you. Like I said, you know, I know this is going to be hard. But don't worry, I'm a tough cookie. Number 11. And we're almost there. Too many cooks spoil the broth, you know, the broth. That's what you get when you boil water with perhaps vegetables and chicken or could also be fish. And so yeah, that's the broth. If you have many cooks in there, then the broth ends up being not as tasty as you expected. And it means that a project works best if there is input from a limited number of people. So not too many people working on it. And here's another example. I would have loved to you know to join, but you have too many people on board already. And too many cooks spoil the broth.
Paola Pascual 8:12
And the last one number 12. You can't have your cake and eat it too. And it means you cannot enjoy both of two desirable but mutually exclusive alternatives. Let me say that again. There's two things that you want, but it's it's not possible to have both. In the example you know, you can't have your business, take care of everything yourself succeed. And also not be tired, right? You can't have your cake and eat it too. Okay, quick recap. Number one walking on eggshells being careful not to offend others. Number two to spill the beans needs to reveal a secret number three in a nutshell, or in just a few words. Number four, a bad egg. Someone who does bad things or who you don't trust. Hope you don't have a bad egg on your team. Number five, a hard nut to crack a difficult problem sometimes also a difficult person. Number six. To put all your eggs in one basket is to rely on a unique venture or stream of income. Number seven, low hanging fruit, the easy tasks the easy customers or prospects. Number eight, sell like hotcakes. It's when they're sold quickly and a lot right in large quantities. Number nine to bite off more than you can too is when you commit to more than what you're able or capable of doing. Number 10. To be a tough cookie means to be you know a very determined person who tries and tries Is there and actually manages number 11. Too many cooks spoil the broth. Sometimes it's best if only a small group of people do it. Because when you have too many people trying to decide and do things, then it just becomes a mess. And the last one, number 12, you can't have your cake and eat it too. It's a bit like saying you cannot have everything sometimes you have to accept that, you know, some alternatives are mutually exclusive.
Paola Pascual 10:31
Phew, so many phrases for today. I wonder how many you already knew, how many you learned. So I'm going to drop a link in the in the description section. Wherever you're listening from Spotify or Apple podcast. We're pretty much on every platform out there. But I'm going to leave a link. And that is going to take you to our blog with all of these examples. Even more idioms with definitions. And I would love for you to drop a comment, tell us how many were you able to spot? Which ones did you learn which ones did you know? And yeah, let us know what you think. firstname.lastname@example.org is our email. And we always, always, always read your feedback and get back to you. We'd love to get to know you better. All right, have a wonderful day. And as always, keep learning.
And that's all we have for you today. We hope you enjoyed it, and remember to subscribe to Talaera Talks. We'll be back soon with more! And visit our website at talaera.com for more valuable content on business English. You can also request a free consultation on the best ways for you and your team to improve your communication skills. So have a great day and keep learning!