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Idioms to talk about relationships

This time around we'll be looking at some idioms used to refer to relationships. Whether you are describing the kind of friendship you have with your bff, problems you're having with your partner or the news of your engagement, the English language has several idiomatic expressions that convey meaning on a deeper level. These phrases are also rich in cultural references.

During October, On Point's IG will feature idioms on love, friendship and other relationships. Check out Mondays' #wordoftheweek, Thursdays' #idiomoftheweek and Fridays' #trivia posts to learn and practise interesting new expressions!



If you and your best friend spend lots of time together, have your own little inside jokes and seem to be one person, then people would say you are thick as thieves. This idiom comes from the premise that thieves usually work together, as part of a "gang", and are then very close. When talking about an old friend - a childhood friend, for instance - you can say both of you go back a long way. This phrase literally means you have known each other for a very long time.

What expression can you use to mean that you have made up with a friend, after a disagreement or argument? Well, you may choose to say you have buried the hatchet. To bury the hatchet means to put an end to the quarrel you had and become friendly again; to settle the differences you had. Now, what exactly is a hatchet and where does the expression come from? A hatchet is a small, short-handled axe, and the idiom comes from a common practice among American Indians. The chiefs of tribes used to literally bury their hatchets as a sign of peace, when they came to a peace agreement with another tribe or group.



Ah, getting married... such a milestone in every relationship! But which expressions are connected to this idea of getting engaged and walking down the aisle? Well, to get started, a way to describe somebody proposing is to say that they popped the question. Which question is that? "Will you marry me?", of course. To pop the question is to ask somebody to marry you. Simple as that.

There are also some interesting expressions that are synonyms of "getting married". To tie the knot and to get hitched, for instance. Tying the knot comes from one of the oldest Celtic wedding traditions - handfasting. In case you're not familiar with it, during the ceremony, couples were bound together in matrimony by tying knots of cloth around their hands. You may have seen this in movies or TV shows about medieval times. Getting hitched is a popular expression that originated in America in the 1600s, when it described how horses were tied to a wagon. It was later used to refer to two people being tied together in matrimony and sharing the "load" or responsabilities of marriage.



Trouble in paradise? There are several expressions you can use to show you're having problems with your spouse, a friend and even a colleague. For example, instead of saying you don't agree with somebody's idea or plan, you may state both of you don't see eye to eye.

If the level of dislike between you and someone else is great, you can say you hate his/her guts. This expression clearly conveys the degree of aversion you feel for that person. It can also refer to a less dramatic and more temporary feeling, when someone disappoints you and makes you angry about something.

What about seemingly irreversible problems? Well, when a marriage or business is on the rocks, it means it is going through difficulties and will likely end or fail soon. You can use that phrase to give the impression that the problems faced are too great. Where did it originate? Actually, it comes from the nautical field. When a ship runs aground on rocks, the hull is severly damaged, causing the ship to literally break apart.


We hope these popular idioms come in handy! Be sure to try to incorporate them in conversations, so that they stick!

Stay tuned for our next blog post on idioms and expressions!


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