Number one for English language teachers

Your English: Idioms: furniture

Type: Article

Don’t sweep your problems with idioms under the carpet! Address them by reading this article by Tim Bowen.

‘Manchester City’s dramatic victory brought down the curtain on an amazing season.’ Another expression used to indicate the end of something, or even death, is the final curtain, as in ‘It seems that his death did not spell the final curtain for the King of Pop as millions of his records are still being sold’. The expression be curtains for can be used to say that someone or something will die, end or be in serious trouble, as in ‘One more mistake and it’ll be curtains for him’.

If you roll out the red carpet for a guest, you give them very special treatment, but if you sweep something under the carpet, you try to avoid dealing with a problem, as in ‘You can’t just sweep important issues like these under the carpet’.

If the cupboard is bare, there is no money left, as in ‘I’d love to lend you some money but I’m afraid the cupboard is bare at the moment’. If someone has a skeleton in the cupboard, they have an embarrassing secret about their past that they do not want anyone to know about.

To turn the tables on someone means to succeed in gaining an advantage over someone who until now had an advantage over you, as in ‘Ten years ago the developed world dominated the world economy but now the tables are turning’.

If you chair a meeting (as a chairman/woman/person) it means you lead that meeting. As such, you may want to table an item on the agenda (suggest a topic for discussion), and if no satisfactory outcome is reached on that item, you may want to shelve it for next time (leave it and discuss it another time). However, if the matter is discussed satisfactorily, you can say that it has been put to bed (dealt with).

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