- Looking for the best sayings to take with you as you do some trick-or-treating around town?
- Check out these 10 English idioms and one Cantonese slang phrase that are perfect for the occasion
Happy Halloween! During this time when people are dressing up as their favourite fictional characters and trick-or-treating around town, take this opportunity to brush up on some spooky idioms.
1. Dig one’s own grave
Meaning: to seriously harm yourself; to cause your own ruin or downfall
Example: If Sam ignores the teacher’s advice, he’ll be digging his own grave.
2. Ghost town
Meaning: a town permanently abandoned by its inhabitants. People have usually left because there are no more jobs to be found in the area.
Example: When the mine outside our town closed 20 years ago, people began leaving in search of work elsewhere, turning it into a ghost town.
Meaning: a structure or situation that is potentially very dangerous to life
Example: The factory was a deathtrap as it did not have enough exits for the workers to use in case of a fire.
4. Give up the ghost
Meaning: to stop trying to do something because you no longer believe you can do it successfully; to die or expire
Example: Our old television has finally given up the ghost after 10 years.
5. Graveyard shift
Meaning: a work shift that usually begins at about midnight and continues for about eight hours through the early morning
Example: He paid his university tuition by working the graveyard shift as a hospital cleaner.
6. Like a bat out of hell
Meaning: describes something that is moving extremely fast
Example: Because she was late for her appointment, she raced down the street like a bat out of hell.
7. Night owl
Meaning: a person who often stays up late at night
Example: My sister is a night owl because she prefers working when our flat is silent.
8. Over my dead body
Meaning: in no way; under no circumstances
Example: You want to get a tattoo on your face? Over my dead body!
Meaning: a timid, easily frightened person
Example: He won’t go into the haunted house because he is a scaredy-cat.
10. Smell a rat
Meaning: to sense foul play
Example: They claim they will honour the terms of the contract, but I smell a rat.
Here’s a phrase in Cantonese slang ...
古靈精怪 gu2 ling4 zing1 gwaai3 (gu-ling-jing-guai): “ancient spirit strange”
Meaning: having or characterised by quirky and mischievous traits
In English: quirky; mischievous
Example: Her head is full of gu-ling-jing-guai ideas that are perfect for helping us brainstorm interesting activities we can do for the party.