Number one for English language teachers

Your English: Idioms: the moon and the stars

Type: Article

Do you know anyone with stars in their eyes who lives in cloud-cuckoo land? Tim Bowen presents some idioms that are out of this world.

Opponents of the recent austerity measures introduced by the British government were described by one politician as ‘living on a different planet’, meaning that they were either out of touch with reality or had ideas that were neither reasonable nor practical. Perhaps such people were asking for the moon (wanting something that is impossible to get or achieve) or living in cloud-cuckoo land (believing naively that there was no problem).

Of course, the sky is the limit for some people (meaning that there is no limit to what they can do or achieve), although others may simply have stars in their eyes (be hopeful and enthusiastic about what may happen to them in the future, even though this is not a practical or sensible way to behave).

If they do succeed in achieving their aims they will probably be over the moon about it (extremely happy). Their fate may be written in the stars, in other words certain to happen, as in ‘It was written in the stars that we would never see each other again’.

One thing that is certain is that sooner or later they will depart for that great … in the sky, an adaptable euphemism as the chosen noun can reflect a particular idiosyncratic aspect of the life of the person you are talking about, as in ‘I’m afraid Patrick has gone to that great pub in the sky’. He’s dead, of course, but he obviously enjoyed a drink or two while he was alive.

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