By Paola Pascual on Apr 4, 2022 4:07:36 PM
Idioms are one of the most fun parts of learning a language. They are often very visual and help us express ideas in a more subtle or funny way. Many business idioms come from the world of sports, others from literature, and others from life itself. We use them to talk about all sorts of topics - money, challenges, success, decision-making... And while some are pretty streightforward, others are truly hilarious and bizarre.
In this post, we have collected 8 funny idioms you will hear at work. Listen to the episode, check out the definitions and examples, and read the transcript at the end of this article.
Funny Idioms You'll Hear At Work
Before we list all the funny idioms we've collected for this post, read the fragment below and try to spot as many as you can.
"Hey Sam, can I pick your brain about this new project? The matter at hand is not rocket science but we had a meeting with Anna the other day and we went down a rabbit hole trying to look for the most effective solution. She’s a talented sales rep, but making her understand that some things are just not possible to execute is like pulling teeth. Her blue-sky thinking is great sometimes but it often results in unrealistic expectations. I said we needed to come up with an actually feasible solution quickly and she just flew off the handle. I’ve extended the olive branch and I’m sure we’ll sort it out, but we’re still in a pickle with this project and could truly use your help. Let me know if you’re free for a quick chat. Thank you! Bye!"
Were you able to identify all 8? Let's have a look at the definitions and some examples.
1 - Pick your brain 🧠
- Meaning: obtain information, advice, or opinion from someone who is more knowledgable about a topic.
- Example: Can I pick your brain about this new project? I’d love to ask you some questions about it.
2 - It's not rocket science 🚀
- Meaning: it is not complicated to understand.
- Example: I just looked up the answer online; it’s not rocket science.
3 - Go down the rabbit hole 🐰
- Meaning: enter a situation that is strange, confusing, or illogical, and/or hard to escape from.
- Example: We are having a similar issue here. Before I go down the rabbit hole –does anybody know of a more straightforward way to do it?
4 - Like pulling teeth 🦷
- Meaning: it’s very difficult. This phrase is often used to express a difficulty that you’re having with a particular person.
- Example: Does anyone have recommendations on how to get people to talk during meetings? Our team is always so quiet and it's like pulling teeth to get any sort of agreement or discussion of any kind.
5 - Blue-sky thinking ☀️
- Meaning: ideas that are feasible(only) in a perfect world, where –figurately– the sun is shining, the sky is blue, and there aren't any clouds.
- Example: We have a Confluence page that serves as a brain dump of possible ideas. This is blue-sky thinking and we can add all sorts of crazy ideas. Only serious and well defined ideas transition to our JIRA project board.
6 - Fly off the handle 🪓
- Meaning: suddenly become angry or upset.
- Example: A member of my team flew off the handle in a meeting with cross functional partners.
7 - Extend the olive branch 🕊️
- Meaning: do something in order to show that you want to stop arguing. The olive branch is often used as a sign meaning peace.
- Example: He extended the olive branch by accepting to meet in their headquarters.
8 - In a pickle 🥒
- Meaning: in a tricky, difficult situation
- Example: We're in a pickle here –can you please help us out?
This article works as supporting material for our podcast episode 42. You can read the transcript below. Make sure you check out all our other Talaera Talks episodes and subscribe to get new episode alerts.
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Talaera Talks - Transcript Episode 42
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!
Hi, welcome to a new Talaera Bit. My name is Paola. And I hope that, wherever you are, you are having a great day. As you may have noticed, we've increased our episode frequency and, from now on, you'll have a new episode every Monday. If you would like to get notified when a new episode goes live, make sure you subscribe and turn on that little bell that you have on Spotify, or any other platform you're listening from. Anyhow, today, I'd like to bring you some idioms that I have personally used at work that I find hilarious. And, you know, you can also use them in non professional contexts, but I realize how bizarre they are when I'm talking to a colleague or a client and, oh well, I hope you find them as fascinat-, fascinating as I do.
So I'd like to start with a little fragment. We've done this in previous episodes. And I think it's quite fun. Where you know, I will read a passage, I will read a fragment, and I would love for you to try to spot those funny idioms. So raise a finger every time you hear a funny expression. And we'll see how many you get. Alright, are you ready? Here we go.
Hey, Sam, can I pick your brain about this new project? The matter at hand is not rocket science, but we had a meeting with Anna the other day, and we went down this rabbit hole trying to look for the most effective solution. She's a talented sales rep, but making her understand that some things are just not possible to execute is like pulling teeth. Her blue-sky thinking is great sometimes, but it often results in unrealistic expectations. I said we needed to come up with an actually feasible solution quickly and she just flew off the handle. I know I wasn't very tactful and I've already extended the olive branch. And, you know, I'm sure we'll sort it out. But we're still in a pickle with this project. And we could truly use your help. Let me know if you're free for a quick chat. Thank you. Bye.
Alright, so that's the fragment that I want to read to you. And I wonder how many did you get? So I actually included 8 different funny expressions or idioms.
The first one was pick your brain. And this is saying that may sound a bit gross. What because like, why would you pick someone's brain? Right? Well, this is an expression that we use, when we want to hear someone's ideas, we want to get their advice. You know, we just want to ask them what they think about a particular subject. Like in the example, Hey, Sam, can I pick your brain about this new project? Or would it be okay, if I picked your brain a little while you're here around setting up a podcast?
The second one is, it's not rocket science. And I'm sure you've heard this one before. We use this expression when something is not complicated to understand. For example, oh, I just looked up the answer online. It's not rocket science. Or, you know, I've hired or I've tried to hire people to manage this project. It's not rocket science but that doesn't mean anyone can do it well.
Number three - to go down the rabbit hole. This is my personal favorite. And the idea of going down a rabbit hole comes from Alice in Wonderland, which by the way, is one of my all time favorite books. And in this book, as you may know, Alice falls down a rabbit hole and finds herself in this strange, magical place called Wonderland. So when you get into when you go down the rabbit hole, you get into a situation of you know, or you begin a process or journey that is particularly strange or problematic or difficult, complex, chaotic, and it's especially a situation where it becomes increasingly so as it evolves, or unfolds. Here we we use it for example, in the example I said the matter at hand, it's not rocket science, but we had a meeting with Anna the other day and when down a rabbit hole, trying to look for the most effective solution or We were there, talking about it and talking about it and just became more complicated or complex. Or here's another example that has happened to me before. So my laptop was having problems. So I began researching online how to fix it. I ended up going down a rabbit hole in the process, wasting hours and hours, with no solution in sight. And so finally, I tried restarting my computer, and then, you know, it worked fine. So that was number three.
The fourth one was quite odd. Like I found myself saying this and like, Oh, my God, what, like, how does that even...? Anyway, number four is like pulling teeth. And it doesn't sound very nice. That's it. But that's the whole point. It's something if something is like pulling teeth, it's very difficult. And we usually use this phrase to express a difficulty that you're having with a particular person. For example, She's talented, but making her understand that some things are just not possible to execute. It's like pulling teeth, it's so hard. Having a team to document is usually like pulling teeth, it's very hard. It's a painful process.
Number five - blue sky thinking. We use this when we refer to ideas that are feasible, but only in a perfect world. For example, we have a Confluence page that serves as a brain dump of possible ideas. This is just blue sky thinking. And here, we can add all sorts of ideas and silliness. And then only serious and decently defined ideas transition to our project board. Another example is the manager's blue sky thinking always resulted in unrealistic expectations. So yeah, blue sky thinking is great for brainstorming but it's not that great when you want to come up with more feasible and well defined ideas.
Number six - to fly off the handle, I help this doesn't happen to you or to anyone close to you. Because it just means to suddenly become very angry, to the point where you don't know how the other person is going to react. And imagine if you were, you know, cutting a tree with an axe, there's the wooden part, that's where you where you hold it at like the handle, and then you have the metal part, that's the one that cuts that is sharp, imagine the axe suddenly flew off the handle, it would happen very quickly, and it would be very dangerous. So this is what happens when someone flies off the handle, you know, it can be a little bit tricky or dangerous to be around that person. Like when I told Anna that we needed an actually feasible solution quickly, she just flew off the handle, she became very angry, she was very upset.
Number seven, and we're almost done. To extend the olive branch. That's something you do in order to show that you want to stop arguing. Thi olive branch is often used as a sign meaning piece. And I wonder if you translate it to if you say something similar in your own language. But you know, this expression usually translates pretty well. Like I said, I already extended the olive branch to Anna.
And the last one is quite funny. In a pickle. When you are in a pickle, you are in a difficult situation. It's quite funny to think about it right? To be in a tough spot. Much like a cucumber stuck sitting in vinegar brine for days on end. You don't want to be in a pickle.
Anyhow, let me know if you knew all of these expressions - all eight we had: pick your brain, it's not rocket science, to go down the rabbit hole. Number four was like pulling teeth. Number five, blue sky thinking. Number six to fly off the handle. Number seven, extend the olive branch. And number eight, to be in a pickle to be in that difficult situation. All right, if you have any suggestions or new topics that you would like to hear about, or if you have any guest speakers that you would like us to invite, lLet us know in the comments in we'll be happy to create that content for you. And that's all I have for you today. Have a wonderful day and we'll talk to you soon.
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!