Like all languages, English is sometimes factual andeasy to understand. However, it can also be used increative and imaginative ways that are often difficultto translate and understand. Sometimes these creativeuses of English (or any language) occur in fixed(unchanging) expressions.
One very common fixed figurative expression inEnglish is the "formula" as ___ as a(n) ___ . Variations on this "formula" are often heard inconversation. (They're used only in informal writing.)
Here are some examples, comments on their meaning,and examples of how they might be used:
as _____ as a(n) _____ (#1)
as big as a barn: very big (usually used in a negativeway to describe a person who is very fat).
X has really gained a lot of weight lately.She's as big as a barn.
as cool as a cucumber: very calm--especially insituations in which others would be very nervous.
Most people were really nervous when theybegan their speeches, but Chuck wasn't.He was as cool as a cucumber.
as clumsy as a bull in a china shop: very clumsy;totally without grace; very uncoordinated. (Describessomeone who is so clumsy that he or she is likely tobreak things unintentionally).
Don't use your best crystal when Elsie comesfor dinner. She's as clumsy as a bull ina china shop and would probably dropsomething and break it.
as cunning as a fox: "Cunning," here, means cleverat deceiving others.
Yes, the supervisor is very pleased withthe new clerk's performance and says he'sa superior worker. Personally, I think thenew clerk has fooled the supervisor and isn'tas clever as the supervisor thinks. I'd saythe new clerk is as cunning as a fox.
as crazy as a loon: crazy; unpredictable; displayingirrational or unbelievable speech or behavior.
Don't believe everything that Dr. Phelpstells you. He's brilliant, but he's alsoas crazy as a loon. Many of his ideasare just fantasies.
as dead as a door nail: completely dead. (Can be usedfor objects as well as formerly-living things.)
There's definitely something wrong with thephone. When I pick up the receiver, I hearnothing. There's no dial tone. It's as deadas a door nail.
to be continued . . . . .