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Figurative Expressions: as ___ as a(n) ___ (#5), by Dennis Oliver


The very common fixed figurative expression as ___
___ as a(n) ___ is often used in informal conversation.
Here are more examples, comments on meanings, and
notes on how the examples might be used:

as _____ as a(n) _____ (#5)

as tight as the bark on a tree: very conservative in
spending money; stingy; miserly. (Bark is the "skin"
of a tree; it's connected very tightly to the wood of
the tree. Tight is slang for "stingy" or "miserly.")

Don't expect Uncle Jim to lend you any
money. He's as tight as the bark on a tree.

as tough as nails: strong and hardy; able to manage
difficult situations with no problems; the opposite of
frail or delicate. (used to describe people)

Yes, Juan has had some problems, but you
shouldn't worry about him. He'll manage
everything very well because he's as tough
as nails.

as tough as shoe leather: very difficult to chew
(used to describe food). Note: Shoe leather is the
very strong animal skin used to make leather shoes.

A:   How's your steak?
B:   Terrible! It's as tough as shoe leather!
I can barely cut it and I can't chew it at all!

as ugly as sin: very ugly; very unattractive; homely
(used to describe people or things).

Pierre thinks his girlfriend is the most
beautiful woman in the world. Personally,
I think she's as ugly as sin.

You don't reallylike that painting, do you?
I think it's as ugly as sin!

as white as a ghost / as white as a sheet: very pale
(describes the way people look when they are very
frightened or shocked).

What happened, Mimi? You're as white
as a ghost!

Something terrible has happened to Chuck.
He's as white as a sheet!

Special Notes

1.   Notice that in "as tight as the bark on a tree,"
the is used before bark, not a. ("A bark"
refers to the sound of a dog.)
2.   As tough as nails is unusual because it uses
a plural noun after as.
3.   In as tough as shoe leather and as ugly as
sin, no article is used before leather or sin
because they're both uncountable nouns.

to be continued . . . . .

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