It’s nearly Christmas, and the UK is in full on shopping frenzy, it seems the commercial side of Christmas is bigger than ever. As we come to a close of 2019, we thought some English Christmas idioms might interest you while you learn English speaking.
Note: Just in case you've not heard of frenzy, it means "A temporary madness".
We’ve kept the list of idioms nice and short, just 3, there are so many more, but as usual to give you maximum value we’ve only picked the most common, and the most useful. Something you might use in an everyday English conversation.
As always, you will benefit most from this lesson if you listen to it several times. Repeat listening, spaced repeat listening, is important for getting new English vocabulary and pronunciation to stick in your long-term memory.
We’ve had some requests recently for podcast ideas, and just to let you know we are always listening, if you have any ideas that might appeal to English language learners please send us an email or comment on Facebook or YouTube Channel.
Hi and welcome to the latest podcast from Adept English. If you want to learn English speaking and improve your spoken English then we are here to help you. We don’t really provide English lessons for beginners, but if you have a basic level of English understanding, then you can improve massively with Adept English.
Well, I promised that once it was December, we’d do some more slightly fun podcasts – ones which aren’t full of difficult grammar at least. Though of course, English language learners need to learn grammar too! So how about today we have a look at three idioms which have a Christmas theme? So we are on theme for the season, but also learning some useful English language too. And they’re not just idioms which you’d use at Christmas time – you might hear these at any time of the year.
So our three idioms for today are:-
- Lit up like a Christmas tree
- Like turkeys voting for Christmas
- The more the merrier
Before I talk about these idioms, just a reminder of our podcast download service. You want to learn English speaking and you want to be fluent in English conversation? So how do you do this? How to learn English speaking? Well, the number one rule is that you need to listen to lots of spoken English language.
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So what about our first idiom today, ‘Lit up like a Christmas tree’? Well, this is a descriptive phrase and it’s something you might hear as part of spoken English conversation any time of year. The word ‘lit’, L-I-T is the past participle of the verb ‘to light’. So a Christmas tree will usually be decorated with lots of things but probably there will be some lights on the Christmas tree. So if the Christmas tree lights were on, you might say that the Christmas tree was ‘lit’ or ‘lit up’. You might also say of a fire or of a lamp ‘it was lit’ or that ‘someone had lit it’. So ‘Lit up like a Christmas tree’. When you use the word ‘like’ in this way, you’re using it as a preposition, not as a verb. There is a verb ‘to like’ of course, but here the preposition ‘like’, L-I-K-E means ‘similar to’.
So you might say ‘Oh, isn’t that boy like his dad’ or ‘Doesn’t that carrot look like a finger!’ - meaning that they look similar. So here ‘lit up like a Christmas tree’ means that you’re describing something which has lights on it and you’re saying there are so many lights on it that it is like, similar to a lit Christmas tree. So what this phrase really means that there are so many lights on this thing, that you’re describing, more than you would expect – so much so that it looks like a Christmas tree. You might say of a lorry on the motorway in the dark with lots of lights on it, that it was ‘lit up like a Christmas tree’. Or if you were climbing a hill in the snow and there was a house in the distance with its lights on, it was ‘lit up like a Christmas tree’. You could see it for miles around. So really it means something that’s lit, which stands out, which you can’t fail to notice. Something which has more lights on it that you might expect.
What about the next in our three Christmas idioms? “Like turkeys voting for Christmas” So what do we mean by this phrase? Well, a turkey, T-U-R-K-E-Y is a bird, a large bird which we eat. It’s like a big chicken and in the traditional American Thanksgiving dinner, the turkey is the bird, the meat that is eaten. And in the UK, lots of people eat turkey for their Christmas dinner. We do have duck or goose or chicken, but turkey is the most popular meat for Christmas Day. And there’s a big thing about cooking the turkey. Turkeys are big and you’d better check that it fits inside your oven so that you can cook it. If you ‘vote for something’ - so the verb ‘to vote for’, V-O-T-E - then that means that you choose something, you wish for it to happen. The idea gets your support.
A close up photograph of a beautiful wild turkey, used to help explain the Christmas idiom, like turkeys voting for Christmas.
There’s an election like in the UK this week, so of course you would vote in the election to decide who governs the country. Now just imagine you’re a turkey in the UK – are you likely to want Christmas to come quickly? Well, if you knew that you were probably going to be eaten, then no, you wouldn’t wish for Christmas. So if we say ‘Like turkeys voting for Christmas’ we’re talking about when people choose to bring on situation that can only end badly for them. So that really, what they’re choosing is going to be really, really bad for them, but people choose it, or vote for it anyway.
And the last of our three Christmas idioms this week, ‘the more the merrier’. This is something that we might say all year round, but the adjective ‘merry’, M-E-R-R-Y which the word ‘merrier’ comes from tends to be associated with Christmas. People say ‘Merry Christmas’ to each other. The meaning… the other meaning of ‘merry’, that’s ‘merry’, M-E-R-R-Y, can be ‘a little bit inebriated’. If you’re ‘merry’ it means you’re having fun, and you’ve just had one or two alcoholic drinks, so you’re having a good time, you’re ‘merry’. So if you take the adjective ‘merry’ and instead you say ‘merrier’, then that is what’s known as a comparative adjective.
You can do this with many English adjectives and the -E-R on the end makes it mean ‘more merry’. So ‘fast’ becomes ‘faster’, which means ‘more fast’, ‘tall’ becomes ‘taller’ which means ‘more tall’. So that’s comparative adjectives. So ‘merrier’ means ‘more merry’. Now ‘the more the merrier’ is really short for something like ‘the more people we have here, the merrier it will be’. So ‘the more the merrier’ means ‘Let’s have everyone join in. Let’s invite everyone to our party! Great, let’s have them. The more the merrier’.
You want to join our party? Or you want to join our club or our society? Great, we’ll have you, ‘the more the merrier’. So it can refer to people having drinks and getting merry, but ‘the more the merrier’ can also be used in very sober situations, no alcohol situations and it just means ‘Great, let’s have as many people as possible because that will make it better’. So that’s ‘the more the merrier’.
So there you have it. Three idioms associated with Christmas, but which are used all year round. Learn English speaking with Adept English idioms! If you want the answer to how to speak English fluently and confidently, then Adept English is here to answer that question for you! Perfectly spoken English for you to listen to!
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.