- If you want to avoid getting in deep water with your next homework assignment, try some of these to make it more interesting
- Adding one or two of these phrases will blow other people’s work out of the water!
This World Water Day, we look at some idioms about the wet stuff to help make your writing smoother and more interesting.
1 In hot water
Meaning: in trouble because you have done something wrong
Use: If you don’t finish your history project, you’re going to land in hot water with Mrs Chui.
2 In deep water
Meaning: to be in a difficult or serious situation
Use: The football team is in deep water; there’s no way they can come back from a 3-1 score to win.
3 Take to (an activity) like a duck to water
Meaning: to learn or adapt to something new very quickly
Use: Even though she’d never played guitar before, Louise took to it like a duck to water, and was soon playing with a rock band.
4 Feel like a fish out of water
Meaning: to feel uncomfortable because you feel like you don’t belong in a place or situation
Use: Robert felt like a fish out of water surrounded by the girls who had been doing judo for years.
5 Blood is thicker than water
Meaning: family relationships are more important than all others
Use: Even though I know my brother is annoying, blood is thicker than water, and I will always defend him when people tell him to shut up.
6 To muddy the waters
Meaning: to make a situation more confusing than it was before
Use: The latest statement on the new subject has just muddied the waters, and teachers have no idea what to cover in class.
7 Keep your head above the water
Meaning: to just manage to survive in a difficult situation, especially concerning money
Use: Thanks to a donation from the charity after Mrs Lam lost her job, the family are keeping their heads above water.
8 Pour cold water on something
Meaning: to criticise someone’s idea or plan so much they no longer feel excited about it
Use: I know you don’t think the camping trip is exciting, but there was no need to pour cold water over Billy’s suggestion. He planned it all himself!
9 Pour oil on troubled waters
Meaning: to try to stop an argument by calming people down
Use: Mum always manages to pour oil on troubled waters when my siblings and I get into a fight.
10 Doesn’t hold water
Meaning: if a statement, theory or argument doesn’t hold water, you can’t believe it
Use: Dan told Claire he missed her concert because didn’t know what time it was, but that doesn’t hold water. We all saw him put it in his calendar!
11 It’s (like) water off a duck’s back
Meaning: when criticisms or warnings etc have no effect on the person you are saying them to
Use: My aunt told me my T-shirt was stupid, but her comments on fashion are like water off a duck’s back – she has no idea about what’s cool and what’s not.
12 It’s water under the bridge
Meaning: what happened in the past should be forgotten
Use: Forget all about what you said at the party, it’s water under the bridge.
13 Dead in the water
Meaning: describes a plan or idea that is unlikely to be successful
Use: I reckon Donald Trump’s plan to run for president again is dead in the water.
14 Uncharted waters
Meaning: a situation or activity you’ve never tried or experienced before
Use: Writing books for teens is uncharted waters for Stephen King, but this new novel is excellent.
15 To blow something/someone out of the water
Meaning: be so much better than something or someone else
Use: We thought that last year’s Grammy performances were good, but this year’s blew them out of the water.
16 To be like oil and water
Meaning: describes things that do not work well together
Use: The party was a flop because my friends from football and my classmates were like oil and water.
17 Dip your toe in the water
Meaning: try an activity for a short time to see if you like it, or if it will be successful
Use: The great thing about summer camp is you can dip your toe in the water with a lot of different sports and pastimes, and find a new hobby you love.
18 Test the water (or waters)
Meaning: judge what people think about something before acting on it
Use: Before deciding on the school play, the drama club tested the water by doing extracts from a range of shows.
19 Dull as dishwater (or ditchwater)
Meaning: very boring
Use: I was so excited about the new superhero movie, but it was as dull as dishwater. What a waste of time.
20 Water something down
Meaning: make a statement or plan less forceful by changing it or removing parts that may offend or upset people
Use: The lawmakers watered down the proposed new law, hoping to appeal to voters.
21 Spend money like water
Meaning: spend lots of money (especially if you should be saving it)
Use: She got a summer job, so now she’s spending money like water.
22 You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink
Meaning: you can give somebody an opportunity to do something, but you can’t force them to do it
Use: I offered to help Russ revise for biology, but he said no. It’s like the saying goes: you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.
23 Still waters run deep
Meaning: someone who is quiet may have very strong feelings or know a lot
Use: Sue never speaks in class, so when she gave that amazing talk about DNA, it just showed that still waters run deep.