PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 October, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 October, 2005, 12:00am

On the go

'No, I can't help you tonight. I've been on the go since six o'clock this morning.'

To be 'on the go' is to be very active. If you have been on the go all day, you will feel tired and will need a rest. On a very busy day you can also complain it's 'all go' today.

When you think about it, it's a bit surprising to see 'go' being used as a noun. Actually, it has a few noun usages. 'It's your go' means it is your turn to do something. You might use it when playing a board game or sharing something. If you were playing a new computer game and a friend was looking very interested you should generously ask: 'Do you want a go?' This meaning can also be seen in the phrase 'in one go'. Don't eat your sandwich 'all in one go' would be something your mother might say if you tried to eat too quickly so as to get on with something else.

Another meaning is energy. The managing director may say: 'The company is looking for people with a lot of go'. If someone tells you you are 'full of go' or even 'get up and go', they think you are dynamic.

Go also means 'try' and 'success'. If I ask for volunteers, you might say: 'Okay, I'll give it a go.' We can compliment someone with a new business saying: 'Sara's really making a go of it.'

The last 'go' we'll look at seems to come from traffic signals: 'The party's a go', meaning it's going to happen, it's on.

Keep your chin up

Different parts of the body, apart from their obvious physical meaning, have symbolic ones as well. These may vary from culture to culture.

In English, the heart is the centre of emotions. The cheek symbolises shame. A 'cheeky' person lacks shame and treats others without respect.

The neck and hence the way you hold your head is connected with pride. A 'stiff-necked' person is very proud and stubborn.

What about the chin? Sit up for a moment and push your chin forward. How do you look? You probably look aggressive, ready for a fight, bold and determined. Well, that's what the idiomatic uses of chin suggest.

'Keep your chin up' is used to encourage people in difficult situations. Don't give up. Think on the bright side. You'll succeed. Keep your chin up. If you let your chin go down, you look ashamed and defeated. We 'hang our heads in shame'.

If we 'take something on the chin', we take it bravely. How did Arthur react when he saw he'd failed? He 'took it on the chin'. There were no tears; he accepted it and started planning to sit the exam again. This idiom must refer to taking a punch on the chin. Naturally, from what we have just said, 'a chinless person' is weak and has no determination. Such a person does not get sympathy. They deserve failure.