I’ll teach you how to understand and speak confidently using the following idioms (plus several more!):
- Pile On
- Drop the Ball
- Monday Morning Quarterback
- Moving the Goal Posts
- Hail Mary
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We’re going to kick off this video with an idiom, kick off. In this video, we’re going over idioms relating to football. And I have my husband David here with me who is a football expert to make sure that we learn everything just right.
The word ‘kick off’ in football is the first thing you do to start the game. And we use this term idiomatically and it just means to start something. For example, we could say: Let’s kick off this meeting with introductions.
Or you could say let’s kick off our summer with a trip to the beach.
In college, there was always a really fun talent show called Fall Kickoff. That was really fun. bring some good energy to the new school year.
In the vocabulary video, we also talked about a handoff. When you literally hand something to somebody rather than throwing it. And we use this term for other reasons as well. When you use it figuratively, when you handoff a project to somebody, that means you’re done with it, they’re going to take over, you’re not physically handing them something likely. But they’re taking it over so someone’s taking it over from you and you can say I’m handing this off to you.
So the next idiom is an end run. So in football, this is a play where the whole idea is to have a player run as fast as they can out around the edge of all the other players. And so idiomatically, it gets used as a way to say that someone is being a little bit shady and doing an end run around what might be a typical process, or in some other way, it’s just being a little bit, yeah, a little bit sneaky maybe.
So going around the usual process is to try to get something done.
Right. And so the thing that came to mind is, is near where we live, there’s a new concert venue that the developer is trying to build, but it’s controversial in the neighborhood because it’s close to a residential neighborhood and so I feel like they sort of tried to do an end run by having some of the meetings about it be during the summer when people are on vacation and just, you know, trying to keep a really low profile about it. That’s kind of an end run.
To keep a low profile, also to be under the radar, means to try to do something without many people noticing. So by doing that, they’re being a little sneaky. They’re doing an end run. The usual process would involve residents knowing what was happening, being able to comment on it.
They’re trying to avoid that.
The term ‘pile on’. In football, or any sport really, this just refers to one person jumping on top of the other. And we have pile ons in football when the ball is loose, for example. Everybody wants to get it. Every one jumps on it. And then they kind of have to peel the people back to see who got the ball. So ‘piling on’, you could also use this phrase idiomatically, not referring to actual people or even to something physical. You could say something like: My teacher’s really piling on the homework here for the end of the school year or something, they just keep adding more and more to the stack.
The idiom to ‘drop the ball’. I use this one quite a bit. So in football, or perhaps another sport, but mostly football, when you drop the ball, that means you lose possession of it, you fumble it as you’re running with it or whatever, as you’re getting ready to throw it, you drop the ball, you don’t want to do that. So we also use that figuratively to mean mess something up, stop the momentum of something, or you were in charge of something and you let it go, you failed, you didn’t see it through.
And I’ve, I’ve had to say, I’ve had to own up to that to a supervisor. You know, they’ve told me to do something and I’ll say: Yes, I’ll do that. And then they come back a week later and they say: Hey! Why didn’t you do this? And the reason was because I forgot to write it down. and I have to say: Aaah! I’m so sorry, I dropped the ball on that. I’ll get right on and I’ll do it right now.
Yeah. So he dropped the ball. He didn’t see it through. He didn’t do what he was supposed to do.
Okay, the next idiom is: Monday morning quarterback. So in American football, most games are on Sunday and this idea of Monday morning quarterback is that as fans talk about the game on Monday, and go back and say: Yeah, they made this huge mistake, or why did they run that play? It was obvious that they shouldn’t have done that. You know, it’s so clear that if they had just passed the ball on that situation, they would have won the game. That’s Monday morning quarterbacking because anybody can do that. The time that the decision is made is the one that…that’s when it’s hard.
Okay so a Monday morning quarterback if I’m getting this right is somebody who wasn’t there but knows the outcome, sort of criticizes the way it was handled and says: I know better how to do that.
Right. It’s, it’s, they should’ve.
They should have. They should’ve done this. They should’ve done that.
>> Yeah. Exactly.
>> It’s sort of like a backseat driver, isn’t it?
>> Very similar.
>> Or is that…
Okay, so you’re not actually doing it but you have all sorts of comments on how it should be done or should have been done.
Right. I also thought of ‘hindsight is 20/20’ is a phrase that we use.
So, you know, hindsight 20/20, so sure, looking back, it’s clear what they should have done but that’s just Monday morning quarterbacking.
Yeah, ’cause in the moment, it’s not always clear.
So let’s say, for example, there’s a meeting happening and you’re not involved in the meeting and you hear about the outcome and you think: That wasn’t handled right. And then you’re talking to another colleague and you’d say: they should have done XYZ. You’re kind of being a Monday morning quarterback ’cause you weren’t there and you’re commenting on what should’ve been done as if you know how it could be done better. I like that one.
It’s a good one.
Okay, the next idiom is sideline. So in football, there’s a sideline, very similar to soccer that signifies what’s in bounds and what’s out of bounds and the team, the players on the team who are not on the game are on the sideline. And so that’s literally what it means figuratively. If you sideline someone, it means to sort of edge them out to keep them from the central part of a decision maybe. Um, so the scenario I imagine was if a group of employees is working on a project together, and everybody sort of agrees on how to do this except for one person, the rest of the group could sort of sideline that person’s opinion, keep them kind of out of it.
>> So that it’s…
Yeah, ’cause things will go more smoothly if that person is kept to the side, or sidelined.
So if you feel like uninvolved, like you’re sort of being left out, you could say: I feel a little sidelined here.
Another great idiom when someone moves the goal post. So, in football, the goal posts are U-shaped thing that you have to kick a ball through. And you know, it’s very clear what distance you have to do, what’s your goal. Well, it can happen idiomatically when you feel like you know the parameters of the project and you try to do everything to make that happen and then the parameters of the project, or the rules, moved, they changed. You can say: They keep moving the goal posts on me.
Right. And this happened to me in college. I was working with a friend on a project and the professor said: The presentations need to be 10 minutes long. And sort of made the point of saying: Don’t go longer than that. And so we did our presentation, it was 10 minutes, we thought it was pretty good. Um, but we got a feedback from the professor that it wasn’t thorough enough. And then another class made, did this presentation that went on for 50 minutes. It was 5 times as long as it was supposed to be and they got an A on the project. I thought the professor moved the goal post. Part of what was hard was keeping it short.
Right. The professor said: This is what you have to do.
Right. We thought we knew where the goal posts were but they got moved on us.
They got moved on you.
If you’ve watched much football, you may have heard the term: Throw a hail Mary.
This is a great term. So this is like when there’s almost no time left on the clock, it is your absolute last chance. You’re so far from scoring and you throw a Hail Mary, that means you have one receiver who just goes so long, you just throw it up into the sky, it’s your last chance and you just hope that receiver can catch it, score a touchdown so you can win the game.
So it’s called a Hail Mary and we use it for things other than football as well. It’s like a big push that you do for your last chance for something. And I actually thought about when we bought this house and we had very limited time because I was pregnant with Stoney, and at a certain point, we knew we wouldn’t be able to move because we would have a newborn child, or I would be about to give birth, so we were right up to the last date where we could reasonably buy a home before our son was born. We’re living in a little one-bedroom apartment. I didn’t really want to spend our first several months as parents there so I really wanted to get a house. We’ve been looking all fall and hadn’t seen anything we liked, then we came into this house and we liked it and we threw a Hail Mary. Our realtor said there are 5 other offers on the house. So we had to just get together, put together out best, best offer. We offered ten over asking. We threw our Hail Mary and thank God it was caught and we got the house.
But that was like the last best effort we could make on getting the house.
How much do you know about American football? If you know nothing and you’re curious about it, then check out the video we made last week where we went over the basics of the rules and some vocabulary terms for playing American football.
David, thank you so much for being here with me.
>> on this video.
>> You’re welcome.
David has helped me make several idiom videos. We discuss idioms related to certain topics. To see all of those videos, click here or in the description below. That’s it and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.