Saturday, June 18, 2011

More cool new phrases to drop casually into conversation

Here are a few more new phrases to insert furtively into conversation with your friends, colleagues and perfect strangers at the bus stop. If someone disputes their veracity, remember to look at them the way Jesus would look at Mary Magdalene and say, "Have you really never heard that expression before?" Don't forget the pity; it lends you authority. And that way these awesome new words - already used for years in my own family - will take over the English-speaking world. And possibly also other planets.

At the very least, by using them you will end up sounding worldly in company. And some of you single guys out there in a bar might even get lucky. Language: helping unattractive men have sex since 196,000 B.C. I wish you all the best.

the bite of shame(noun phrase) the last olive, the last serving of lasagna, the last slice of chocolate cake, etc. on a serving plate that no one can politely eat, despite the fact that everyone wants to and can't keep their eyes off it. The bite of shame is an unspoken compliment to the chef; the more delicious the dish, the more likely it is that a bite of shame will remain. Dinner guests in our culture are so insanely courteous. The best way to overcome this politeness in yourself is to have a kid. Then you'll find yourself using verbal tactics such as, "Are you going to eat that last bit of broccoli pasta? Because if you don't, I'm giving it to the dog." Or, "You'd better eat all that hummus or you won't get any raisins for dessert." Or even, "I've slaved away at the stove for hours to make your favorite dish and all you eat is a carrot stick? It's fish balls! What is wrong with you?" If - like me - you can't bear to see food wasted, soon you won't be eating any actual meals yourself but subsisting entirely on someone else's leftovers. And once you give in to the fact that you've become a human garbage disposal, then you'll have no problem at all - and even consider it your duty - to eat just about anybody's bite of shame.

food coma(noun) the soporific state experienced after eating too much. If only we lived in a siesta culture where food coma could actually be followed by a nap! If only food coma occurred in young children!

I know my chickens(phrase) stolen directly from the rural Italian saying "Conosco i miei polli", it's used when a person behaves exactly as you had predicted they would. For instance, on a cold winter's day you tell your cat to have a nap on your bed. The cat says no, that she wants to go outside to chase crickets. You insist she nap. The cat's about 93 in cat years and has only three good teeth. But she's adamant, so you let her out. Soon afterwards, you find her curled up on your pillow. "Ah, I know my chickens," you say with a sigh. That evening your husband says, "She'll probably sleep there all night." You reply, "I'll move her when we get into bed." You hear him say with a laugh, "No, you won't! She has you wrapped around her finger. I know my chickens!" And, in fact, he does know the behavior of every single chicken in his coop, because you wake up the next morning with what is known affectionately as a 'cat hat'.

But that's another blog post.


  1. The bite of shame reminds me of another great expression: the plate of shame. The plate of shame is the contribution you have made to a potluck occasion that no-one eats.

  2. I had quite a giggle with your food coma and your bite of shame. As for the chickens, we have a saying in German that includes the inhabitants of the Bavarian town of Pappenheim: 'Ich kenne meine Pappenheimer' (I know my Pappenheimians). It dates back to the 30-year-War in the 17th century when the (Catholic) general von Pappenheim delivered whatsitsname's city from the (Protestant) Swedish troops and the commander-in-chief Wallenstein is said to have uttered, 'I recognize my Pappenheimians [in this deed]!' But from praise to mockery, it was just one step: the same general, when delivering Heidelberg (??? not so sure about that but anyway), not only chased off the Swedish once more but managed somehow to burn down the whole city. Which was not soo appreciated after all. ;-)) But I have to say I prefer your 'chicken'-phrase; it's absolutely better than the c'mon-bed-me-phrase 'Haven't we met before?'

  3. Haha, this post made me smile :)
    I liked the last one, your literal translation of "conosco i miei polli". Very funny!

  4. Mary Anna: the 'plate of shame', how fascinating! I hope never to be the bearer of that one...:) h.

  5. Dear Dieter, what a cool parallel, and even cooler than you know the etymology of the phrase! I have to use this one on my German-speaking husband, and see if I get a reaction!

  6. Fidanzata italiana, grazie! Do you also used the translated phrase? Or perhaps you've found a true equivalent in English - I know the translation of idioms is your forte! Baci, h.

  7. I am Persian and we have the exact phrase for "Bite of Shame" as "Loghme Sharm o Haya". I wonder whether the phrase is borrowed from Persian or not, it's a very interesting one.

    1. Oh, that IS very interesting, definitely worth looking into!