It seems to me that our language, both written and verbal, is becoming more and more casual. Most people these days send e-mails instead of handwritten letters and, in my humble opinion, texting “abbreviations” threaten what little post spell-check spelling ability remains in our population. Increasing diversity, with each group adding its own unique expressions to the language, global communications, and words and phrases associated with emerging technology all add to the mix. Why do you think Merriam-Webster and the Oxford English Dictionary publish their annual lists of new words and slang?
I’m pretty old school, so I’m featuring a few expressions I’ve either heard or used recently (definitions courtesy of Wiktionary):
- “draw a blank” – to be unable to produce a required piece of information.
- “run into the ground” – to mismanage to the point of ruin; to wear out, especially through excessive use.
- “knock on wood” – a customary action to ward off some misfortune that is believed to be attracted by a presumptuous statement.
- “rule of thumb” – a general guideline, rather than a strict rule; an approximate measure or means of reckoning based on experience or common knowledge.
Fortunately, I’ve “draw(n) a blank” and can’t recall enough of these expressions and euphemisms that I’m in danger of “run(ning this topic) into the ground.” “Knock on wood” I won’t remember any more of these before I finish this post because, for all I know, there is a “rule of thumb” about not having too many items in a list! (That said, I probably also wouldn’t be able to figure out a way to string together too many more phrases into a paragraph that still makes some sense…)
BTW, do you have any favorite expressions, idioms, euphemisms, or colloquialisms that you care to share?