Number one for English language teachers

Your English: Idioms: stuff

Type: Article

Tim Bowen does his stuff with a mixed bag of idioms.

‘You ought to listen to Pete. He really knows his stuff’, means that he knows a lot about a particular subject and is able to use that knowledge. If you do your stuff, you do what you have prepared to do, as in ‘Now get out on that stage and do your stuff!’

If something is described as hot stuff, it is particularly good or popular at the moment, as in ‘Have you heard this new band? They’re really hot stuff’. The hard stuff, on the other hand, is strong alcohol such as whisky or vodka, as in ‘I’ll have the odd beer from time to time but I never touch the hard stuff’.

The expression the stuff of dreams can be used to refer to the type of things usually found in dreams, as in ’Sixteen-year-old Johnson came on as a substitute and scored the winning goal with his first touch. It was the stuff of dreams for the young man’. The expressions the stuff of legends and the stuff of nightmares can be used in much the same way, as in ‘The pictures of the massacre were the stuff of nightmares’.

If you stuff yourself or stuff your face, you fill yourself with food until you are no longer hungry or you fill ill, as in ‘He just sat there stuffing his face with pizza’.

Finally, if you tell someone to stuff it, you let them know that you are angry and that you are not interested in them or their suggestions, as in ‘When she told me what the job involved, I told her to stuff it’.

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