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Your English: Idioms: bone

Type: Article

Are idioms a bone of contention? Let Tim Bowen sort them out.

‘Traffic problems in the area have been a major bone of contention for residents for years’. A bone of contention is something that people disagree or argue about.

If you have a bone to pick with someone, you want to talk to them about something they have done that has annoyed you, as in ‘Just a minute. I’ve got a bone to pick with you. Was it you who scraped the side of my car yesterday?’

If you make no bones about something, you talk about it or do it in a very open way without feeling ashamed or embarrassed, as in ‘He makes no bones about the fact that he wants my job’.

When you feel something in your bones, you feel certain about it even though you cannot explain or prove it, as in ‘Something was wrong. She could feel it in her bones’.

If people say something in a way that is close to the bone, they talk about a subject that people may prefer not to think about in a way that may offend or upset people, as in ‘His jokes about immigration were much too close to the bone for many members of the audience’.

If you are down to the bare bones, you have almost nothing left, as in ‘With so many injuries, the team is down to the bare bones just twenty-four hours before a major final’.

A person who is all skin and bone is very thin is a way that is not healthy or attractive.

Finally, if something is as dry as a bone, it is completely dry or too dry, as in ‘We’ve had no rain for two months and the garden’s as dry as a bone’.

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