There's no need to be in the doldrumsas Tim Bowen's back with another set of idioms, this time derived from maritime.
It is no surprise that the language of an island nation with a rich maritime history should have a number of idioms related to the sea and sailing.
An example of a widely used expression which originated on the sea is to know the ropes or show someone the ropes (to know how to do something or to teach someone to do something, particularly a job), as in ‘It’s a bit difficult at first but you’ll soon get to know the ropes’.
If you do something at a rate of knots, you do it very quickly, as in ‘He set off at a rate of knots but he soon became tired and slowed down'. If you clear the decks, you do work that you need to do before you can do other things. All hands on deck means that a situation is very busy and everyone is needed to help out.
By sailing close to the wind, you are taking unnecessary risks and could easily get into trouble, and if you are in the doldrums, you are in a situation in which there is a lack of success, activity or improvement, as in ‘After years in the doldrums, the market is finally picking up’. Hopefully, however, the tide will turn (things will change) at some point and you will get out of your troubled waters (bad situation).
If something is described as plain sailing, it is easy to do or achieve, as in ‘The French won the match, but it wasn’t all plain sailing’.
To give someone or something a wide berth means to avoid them at all costs, as in ‘Dog walkers have been advised to give cattle a wide berth after a woman was seriously injured last week’.
If something is neat and tidy and in a good condition we can say it is ship-shape, as in, 'When they bought the property it was a wreck, but it's looking pretty ship-shape now'.
The word sea itself provides us with the idiom all at sea, meaning confused and unsure what to do, as in ‘United were all at sea as they struggled to come to terms with the bumpy pitch’. Someone who is not good when travelling by boat and often feels ill, can be described as sea sick. If you make a big impression on something (either positively or negatively) you can be described as making waves, for instance, 'The new CEO made waves in the company by restructuring the entire workforce.'
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