10/3/14

Preparing for the 'oposiciones': Idioms with 'bread', 'butter', 'cake' and 'eggs'

Here are some idioms with the words bread, butter, cake and eggs, with their equivalents in Spanish. The commonest ones are marked with an asterisk:

* to know which side one's bread is buttered on - arrimarse al sol que más calienta
* the breadwinner - la persona que mantiene a la familia
* half a loaf is better than no bread (proverb)- a falta de pan, buenas son tortas
* the best thing since sliced bread - lo mejor que se ha inventado
* someone's bread and butter - el sustento de alguien, sus habichuelas, su medio de ganarse la vida
* to butter somebody up - hacer la pelota a alguien
* to look as if butter wouldn't melt in somebody's mouth - parecer una moquita muerta, que no ha roto un plato en su vida
to take the cake [also to take the biscuit (IBr)] - llevarse la palma, ser peor de lo que uno pueda imaginar
to be a piece of cake - ser pan comido, estar chupado
you can't have your cake and eat it (too) - no se puede tener todo, o una cosa o la otra
* to sell like hot cakes - venderse como rosquillas
* to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs - matar la gallina de los huevos de oro
* a nest egg - unos buenos ahorros/ahorrillos
to have egg on your face - quedársele a uno cara de tonto
to put all your eggs in one basket - jugárselo todo a una carta
as sure as eggs is eggs - tan seguro como que dos y dos son cuatro
you can't teach your grandmother to suck eggs (proverb) - más sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo
good in parts like the curate's egg - bueno en parte, como el huevo del cura (in the OED, we find the following explanation of this curious idiom: "originating in a story of a meek curate who, having been given a stale egg by his episcopal host, stated that 'parts of it were excellent', from Punch, 9 Nov. 1892")


EXERCISE

Complete the sentences with the appropriate idiom:

1.- Stop ............. I'm not not going to lend you my car.
2.- He has made it again - his new album is selling .....................
3.- After her husband's death, she became the ............
4.- Although he looks as if ................, if I were you, I wouldn't trust him an inch.
5.- Make up your mind; a holiday in Spain or a new car. You can't ...................
6.- Don't worry, you'll pass your exam. It's a ............
7.- You should accept their offer. After all, half ..................
8.- After their team lost the match 5-0, the fans were left with ...........
9.- This new robot vacuum cleaner is the best thing ..............
10.- I advise you to invest somewhere else too - it isn't wise to put ................
11.- He isn't worried about the future - apart from his pension, he has a nice little ........... in the bank.
12.- You really ...........for making a fool of yourself with women.
13.- He doesn't miss an occasion to flatter the boss - he really knows ............
14.- You must go on giving good service in your hotel if you don't want to kill .............

KEY

1.- buttering me up; 2.- like hot cakes; 3.- breadwinner; 4.- butter wouldn't melt in his mouth; 5.- have your cake and eat it (too); 6.- piece of cake; 7.- a loaf is better than no bread; 8.- egg in their face; 9.- since sliced bread; 10.- all your eggs in one basket; 11.- nest egg; 12.- take the cake; 13.- which side his bread is buttered on; 14.- the goose that lays the golden eggs.

TIP

For listening comprehension practice, I strongly recommend visiting the BBC Homepage, Learning English, The English We Speak, where you'll find plenty of interesting and amusing podcasts. For example, if you listen to the one broadcast on 11 Feb. 2014, you can learn the idiom Chew the Fat (echar un rato de palique), while you have a bit of fun. Just a few days ago, I listened to The Boot's on the other foot, which I also liked very much.











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