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英语小百科:8个日常短语 起源却出人意料

2017-01-09 10:34

来源:牛津词典

作者:

  1. Pass the buck

  推卸责任

  We all know that buck is informal American English for a dollar. Indeed, it can also be used for an Australian dollar, a New Zealand dollar, a South African rand, and an Indian rupee – but none of those senses are related to pass the buck, meaning ‘shift the responsibility to someone else’.

  我们都知道buck表示美元,是一个不正式的美式英语词。它还能用来指澳元、新西兰元、南非币和印度卢比——但是没有一个意思和推卸责任的短语有关。

  This particular buck is ‘an article placed as a reminder in front of a player whose turn it is to deal at poker’ – which means passing it make much more sense. This item also gives us the phrase the buck stops here; both figurative phrases have moved far beyond their poker origins.

  这里的buck特指用来提醒打扑克牌的一件东西,这样传递它就讲得通了,而且还有一个短语是责任止于此。这些比喻性的短语比它们源自扑克牌的用法更常用。

  2. Turn over a new leaf

  洗心革面

  You might have wondered what raking the lawn had to do with the decision to ‘start to act or behave in a better or more responsible way’. Well, it has nothing to do with foliage, in case you were wondering, but relates to another common use of leaf: one of the pages in a book. A similar derivation gives us to take a leaf out of someone’s book, meaning ‘imitate or emulate someone in a particular way’.

  你或许会好奇用耙子耙草坪跟洗心革面有什么关系。事实上,它和枝叶没有关系,而是和leaf另一个常用的意思有关:书页。一个相似的衍伸词组是take a leaf out of someone’s book,表示“模仿某人或把某人当做偶像”。

  3. Push the envelope

  挑战极限

  This envelope isn’t the sort you’d put letters in. As we discovered in a post about the linguistic influence of aviation, push the envelope was originally aviation slang relating to graphs of aerodynamic performance and exceeding the set of limiting combinations of speed and altitude.

  这里的envelope并不是平时放信件的那种,这个短语最初是航空俚语,和空气动力性能有关,超出了速度和海拔的限定,所以有挑战极限的意思。

  4. Ring the changes

  换汤不换药

  An editor might ring the changes in red, but this phrase – meaning ‘vary the ways of expressing or doing something’ – has nothing to do with pen and paper. Instead, it came originally with allusion to bell-ringing and the different orders in which a peal of bells may be rung.

  它最初和响铃的典故有关,有不同的订单,接着会有一串响铃的声音。

  5. Leave someone in the lurch

  不顾他人的安危

  Lurch means ‘an abrupt uncontrolled movement, especially an unsteady tilt or roll’. It turns out that they’re unrelated; the word lurch in this phrase derives from the French lourche, which is the name of a game resembling backgammon. In French, you might find it in demeurer lourche, ‘be discomfited’.

  Lurch表示突然失控的移动,尤其是不稳定的倾斜或滚动。但和这个短语没有关系,短语里的lurch起源于法语词lourche,是个类似十五子棋的游戏名称。

  6. Lick into shape

  塑造,整顿

  In Medieval Europe, it was believed that bears’ young were born shapeless, and licking into shape refers to the alleged practice of bears licking their offspring into ursine form.

  在中世纪的欧洲,人们以为年幼的熊出生时是不成形的,licking into shape据称指的是熊会舔它们的后代,让它们变成像熊的样子。

  7. Flash in the pan

  昙花一现的人或物

  The flash arises from an explosion of gunpowder within the pan, which was a part of the lock that held the priming in old types of gun.

  这里的flash源自火药的爆炸,是旧式手枪点火锁的一部分。

  8. Pull out all the stops

  全力以赴

  These stops are organ pipes of a particular tone and range of pitch and the handles which control them; by pulling all the stops out, you would create a louder, more elaborate sound.

  这里的stops是指特殊音调的风琴管、音域和控键,把这些都拔掉后,你能制造更大更精美的声音。

(编辑:何莹莹)

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