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Some adjectives and phrases in English come from parts of the body. They can be very vivid and expressive.
The word “nosy” originally meant to have a large nose. In today’s English, a nosy person is someone who is overly curious and asks impolite questions. If a colleague asks you a private question you don’t like, you might complain to a friend: “I wish he would stop being nosy about my personal life.”
As in Japanese, you can “lend your ear” to someone, meaning you listen or pay attention to them. The phrase may have originated from a famous speech by Mark Antony to the ancient Romans in Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar: “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.”
Have you ever eaten butterflies? It’s a strange question, I know. But in English if you feel nervous before doing something important, we often call this “having butterflies in your stomach.” You might say: “I always get butterflies in my stomach before a job interview.”
In English, a “jerk” is a quick, sudden movement of the body. Your knee may jerk if you strike it under the kneecap. From this, a “knee-jerk reaction” describes what happens when you respond to a question or situation without thinking properly. For example, your colleague makes a proposal, and you immediately say, “Absolutely not, that’s a terrible idea.” Later, when you realize you were wrong, you say to her: “I’ve reconsidered your proposal and I think it’s a good idea, after all. I’m sorry for my earlier reply, it was a knee-jerk reaction.” (Rob Horn)
To be continued…
This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.