In this video podcast, I will explain idioms with the English word ‘leg’ in them. English idioms are an odd part of the English language, and not knowing about them can catch English language learners out. The best way to deal with them is to focus on the popular ones, the ones you are more likely to hear in an everyday English conversation. Today I’m going to break each idiom down into understandable parts and give you lots of examples. There is even a quiz to test yourself at the end.
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Today in this video podcast, let's cover some more of those English idioms that you hear in everyday conversation, especially in the UK. I'm going to talk to you about idioms, which use the word 'leg'. So your brain is going to be consciously learning that vocabulary, but with our Listen and Learn method, you will be unconsciously learning lots of words too.
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So we've not done any English idioms for a while, and there are hundreds and hundreds of idioms in English. So I think the best thing to do with them is just keep having a go at them. 'Having another bite at the cherry', you might say, with idioms.
So today I've grouped together a few idioms, which use the word leg, L E G. So first of all, let's check that you understand the meaning of the word 'leg'. The 'leg', your 'leg' is part of your body. Probably you have two legs. And do you use them to stand on or to run with, or to walk with. Dogs and horses have four legs. We have two legs. Hopefully that explains well enough what a leg is!
The first of the idioms for today to stretch one's legs. If you have been driving around the UK, our motorways are often very busy, particularly on a Friday or at the weekend.
So it might take several hours to get somewhere. You park up at a motorway service station because you need a break and your passenger says, "Oh, I'm just going to get out and stretch my legs". Probably what they mean is "I'm going to go for a little walk". I'm going to walk around the car park because my legs feel stiff with sitting. If someone says I'm just going to stretch my legs. They mean, they're going for a walk, they're going off to do a bit of exercise.
The word stretch, S T R E T C H? If you imagine a piece of elastic or something, that's that length and you just pull it and pull it and pull it. That's you 'stretching' it. If I wake up in the morning, I might or have a stretch and feel better. So 'to stretch one's legs' is the idiom there.
The next one. If someone says, "Oh, I'm just pulling your leg!" What does that mean? To pull P U L L. That's when you get hold of something and you pull it towards you, move it towards you that's 'to pull something'. What on earth do they mean when they say 'I'm pulling your leg'? Well, it means I'm just joking with you. I'm just having a joke, a little bit at your expense actually.
Often when someone says "I'm pulling your leg", it means that they've told you a set of things that aren't actually true, just as a bit of fun to see if you'll believe them. And then they say "Ach no, I'm just pulling your leg. It's not really true!" To pull someone's leg, means to have a bit of a joke at their expense. A very slang way of saying this that you'll hear sometimes "I'm just messing with you. I'm pulling your leg". That's today's second idiom.
Another one. What about if somebody says, "Whoa, that costs an arm and a leg?" I think this one's guessable. The clue is the word cost. So if something 'costs an arm and a leg', it means it's 'very expensive'. Clearly we're exaggerating the pain here. If you were to lose an arm or a leg that would be very serious and would have a big impact on your life, so we are exaggerating, but we're talking about something that's very expensive. You might talk about property in the UK, houses or flats, particularly in the south of the UK and even more so in London. Buying a house or buying a flat 'costs an arm and a leg'.
Next idiom? What about if somebody says, "Oh, she can talk the hind leg off a donkey!"?
Well, that's a bizarre idiom, isn't it? Some vocabulary? The 'hind leg'. So 'hind leg', H I N D means a back leg and that's in an animal that has four legs. So they have two front legs and two back legs. And 'to talk the hind leg off a donkey'? Well, 'a donkey', D O N K E Y, is like a horse. It's smaller than a horse and we tend to use donkeys for pulling carts or carrying heavy objects, carrying heavy bags. That's 'a donkey'. So what does it mean if we say, "Oh, someone can talk the hind leg off a donkey"? What we mean by this is that 'they talk too much'. They talk excessively. They talk all the time and someone listening to that might find it too much.
It's a bit of a funny thing to say. The idea that someone talking a lot will cause the hind leg to drop off a donkey, An example would be "My aunt Mary, when I visit her, she's very nice, but oh my goodness, she can talk the hind leg off a donkey!" Perhaps I don't go to visit her quite as often as I should.
What about the idiom 'to leg it'? So it's a phrasal verb, if you like. And it's quite slang that one. If someone says, "Oh, we legged it!", then it means they ran or they moved fast. But it's got a certain meaning, it's got a connotation that someone who 'legs it' was doing something they shouldn't, something that was a bit naughty! And they escaped, they legged it before they were caught.
So If you imagine some teenagers, who were perhaps climbing a fence, that they shouldn't be climbing and suddenly there's a police car in the road! Then they might stop what they're doing and 'leg it' before they get told off by the police. So that's 'to leg it'. You're doing something a bit naughty and you run away to escape.
What about the phrase have hollow legs'? So that's 'hollow', H O L L O W. That's an adjective. And if something is 'hollow', it means 'it's got a space, it's got a gap inside'. It's not obvious this one, but what we mean when we say, "Oh, that person's got hollow legs", it means either that they eat a lot, so they eat a lot of food or that they drink a lot of alcohol and don't really show the effects of either.
So I might say at the moment of my 13 year old son, "He's got hollow legs!" And what I mean is he's eating a huge amount and he doesn't seem to put on any weight! However, he is growing much taller. So the food is going somewhere. But this phrase imagines that the person is packing away the excess food inside hollows in their legs!
Or if we use it of alcohol "Ooh, she's got hollow legs, that one!", it means "Well, she can drink a lot of alcohol, but she doesn't seem to get drunk!" Where does she put it? She puts it in her legs. So that one, someone 'has hollow legs'. Yeah? They put their food or drink somewhere mysterious inside of themselves. I don't think it's medically accurate this phrase, but we do use that one.
Last one today? What about the phrase 'break a leg'? And that's B R E A K. Well, what a strange thing to say to someone. That would be very serious, actually, if you broke a leg. It would mean that you'd broken the bone in your leg - might take many months of recovery. Why would you tell someone, 'Break a leg'? Well, the particular context in which this phrase is used? It's used when someone's going on stage, to give a performance at the theatre.
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Or you might use it if you knew someone who was a musician, who was going to do a performance on stage. 'Break a leg'. And we say this because apparently, if you say 'Good luck!' to someone in this situation, that's actually regarded as bringing bad luck. So instead we say "Break a leg!" Slightly bizarre, but true. So that's something that you would use if you knew someone who was an actor or a performer.
So there you have it. Seven idioms involving 'legs'. How about, I give you a little quiz to test your knowledge on this one, to test whether you remember the correct meanings for each of the seven idioms? I'll do that in a minute. But before that, just a reminder of our Course One, Activate Your Listening, which is available to buy on our website at adeptenglish.com. This course includes lots of lovely English conversation with two speakers. So It's really good listening practice for you. Go to our Courses page and have a look for that one now.
OK. What about that quiz? I'll give you a reminder first of all of the seven idioms that we covered today. They were: to stretch one's legs, to pull someone's leg, to cost an arm and a leg, to talk the hind leg off a donkey, to leg it, to have hollow legs, and finally... break a leg.
So those are the idioms and here is the quiz so that you can test yourself.
- Which leg idiom means 'Good luck!' when someone is going onstage to give a performance at the theatre?
- Which leg idiom means that someone can eat a lot?
- Which leg idiom means 'to run away' or 'to escape', especially if you've been doing something naughty that you shouldn't have been doing? 4 Which leg idiom means that something costs a lot of money?
- Which leg idiom might you use if you've been sitting in a car for a long time and you wanted to go for a little walk?
- Which leg idiom means that someone talks too much? And....
- Which leg idiom means that you're teasing someone and perhaps telling them a story that's not true?
If you want the answers to those quiz questions, then go to our website adeptenglish.com and I will make sure that they're in the transcript for you. So there we have it. Seven leg idioms. See if you can find an opportunity to use them.
Enough for now, have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon.
- Break a leg
- To have hollow legs
- To leg it
- To cost an arm and a leg
- To stretch one's legs
- To talk the hind leg off a donkey
- To pull l someone's leg