Site Search:

Figurative Expressions: as ___ as a(n) ___ (#1), by Dennis Oliver


Like all languages, English is sometimes factual and
easy to understand. However, it can also be used in
creative and imaginative ways that are often difficult
to translate and understand. Sometimes these creative
uses of English (or any language) occur in fixed
(unchanging) expressions.

One very common fixed figurative expression in
English is the "formula" as ___ as a(n) ___ .
Variations on this "formula" are often heard in
conversation. (They're used only in informal writing.)

Here are some examples, comments on their meaning,
and examples of how they might be used:

as _____ as a(n) _____ (#1)

as big as a barn: very big (usually used in a negative
way to describe a person who is very fat).

X has really gained a lot of weight lately.
She's as big as a barn.

as cool as a cucumber: very calm--especially in
situations in which others would be very nervous.

Most people were really nervous when they
began their speeches, but Chuck wasn't.
He was as cool as a cucumber.

as clumsy as a bull in a china shop: very clumsy;
totally without grace; very uncoordinated. (Describes
someone who is so clumsy that he or she is likely to
break things unintentionally).

Don't use your best crystal when Elsie comes
for dinner. She's as clumsy as a bull in
a china shop and would probably drop
something and break it.

as cunning as a fox: "Cunning," here, means clever
at deceiving others.

Yes, the supervisor is very pleased with
the new clerk's performance and says he's
a superior worker. Personally, I think the
new clerk has fooled the supervisor and isn't
as clever as the supervisor thinks. I'd say
the new clerk is as cunning as a fox.

as crazy as a loon: crazy; unpredictable; displaying
irrational or unbelievable speech or behavior.

Don't believe everything that Dr. Phelps
tells you. He's brilliant, but he's also
as crazy as a loon. Many of his ideas
are just fantasies.

as dead as a door nail: completely dead. (Can be used
for objects as well as formerly-living things.)

There's definitely something wrong with the
phone. When I pick up the receiver, I hear
nothing. There's no dial tone. It's as dead
as a door nail.

to be continued . . . . .

Dave's ESL Cafe is maintained by the one and only Dave Sperling.
Banner Advertising | Bookstore / Alta Books | FAQs | Articles | Interview with Dave
Copyright 1995-2007 Dave's ESL Cafe | All Rights Reserved | Contact Dave's ESL Cafe | Site Map