Saturday, August 23, 2008

Raise the bar and hit your stride

English is chock full of figures of speech. More than you can shake a stick at. It drives speakers of another languages crazy--just ask Jessica, who's "tired and sick of it." (Of course Jessica is actually one of the most fluent English-as-a-second-language speakers you could ever hope to meet.)

But it's never occurred to me how many of our figures of speech come from track and field:

Jump the hurdle.
Raise the bar.
Stumble at the finish line.
Toe the line.
Cross the finish line.
False start.
Ready set go.
Pass the baton.
The home straight.
Second wind.
Set the pace / pace yourself.
Hit your stride.
Finish in record time.
Fast track.
Trial run.
Victory lap.
Take the lead.
Pick up the pace.
The last leg.
Jump the gun.

What else?


  1. Jessica and I just had a conversation about this as a result of your blog. She was a bit confused about what you were talking about and is now feeling a bit sheepish, but she gets it.

    She gets self-concious about stuff like that, but I think it is one of the funnest things about her. I like it that her command of the english language is not perfect.


  2. Yeah, it's kind of a treat to ever find some little thing Jessica doesn't say exactly right--because there are so few of them. It really is pretty impressive.

  3. What about "get off on the right foot"

    and from baseball: "have the bases covered"

  4. Hmm, Fall behind? Jump the gun? Not sure about those.