Last week I examined a random collection of idiomatic expressions that we all use occasionally despite the fact that said expressions tend to make absolutely no sense. This week I’m going to do the same thing, only now I’ll try to be funny!
“I can’t predict the future.” — Yeah, you can. In fact, the future is the only place in time that you can make predictions about. Start predicting the present and people are gonna think you’re some asshole with an irritating penchant for stating the obvious. Start predicting the past and you’re eventually gonna wind up as a ward of the state. (You get a spiffy new jacket free of charge if that happens though, so it’s worth thinking about—especially in this economy!)
“Needless to say” — Needless to say, whatever you said wasn’t needless to say if you needed to say “needless to say.” Enough said.
“High and dry” — This is supposed to have a bad connotation, but if you ask me, I think it sounds far preferable to its linguistic counterpart: low and wet. In any case, I certainly didn’t hear Noah complaining when he was left high and dry — mostly because I wasn’t born yet.
“The gospel truth” — There is no publication that I can think of that is more historically or morally unreliable than the bible. Seriously, have you read that thing? You’d probably go to hell for reenacting even a fraction of what’s in there.
“Secure enough in your sexuality” — This is one of those snide remarks so popular amongst liberal suburban jerkholes. It’s usually invoked after some quasi homoerotic event between two straight people (or between one straight person and one gay person) has occurred, resulting in a display of discomfiture from one of the parties involved. It’s at that point that some wag on the sideline breaks out a zinger like, “What, you’re not secure enough in your sexuality to kiss a man?” No, I’m not. As a matter of fact, I am secure enough in my sexuality to NOT kiss a man. That’s what it means to be secure with one’s sexuality: to have an incontrovertible understanding and acceptance of your sexual preferences. It’s those people who are literally not secure in their sexuality that should be jumping at the chance to engage in more-than-platonic relations with members of the same sex. (“Not,” to quote a Mr. Jerry Seinfeld, “that there’s anything wrong with that.”)
“And then my life changed forever/I was never the same after that” — Every moment you’re alive, your life is changing forever, thus making the expression meaningless. In the same vein, you’re never the same after anything. It’s called physics.
“To lay an egg” — How did this farm-fractured idiom become a catchall for failure? Seems to me that laying an egg is a rather important accomplishment. Not only are eggs valuable sources of protein and delightful characters in children’s stories, they are the backbone of one of the most basic philosophical and biological questions in history.
“May or may not” — “May” is already an indicator of possibility; it implies (in the formal, logical sense) “may not.” A sentence like “Billy may or may not drop a giant deuce after winning the prune eating contest” is simply redundant. (It’s also irrelevant, since Billy definitely is going to drop a giant deuce after winning the prune eating contest. Hell, he’s probably gonna drop one if he loses, too.)
“To a fault” — People frequently praise individuals they admire by stating that said individuals possess certain admirable qualities “to a fault.” For example: “He is generous to a fault.” But—and this might come as a shock to some of you—faults are bad; that’s why they’re faults and not, for example, strengths. If someone were generous to a strength, that might be worth lauding, but people who possess any quality to a fault are no better than people who are without that quality at all. So suck it.
This one’s not a phrase, but I’m throwing it in here anyway:
Paltry — If there’s ever a reason to hate the English language, this is it. When separating this word into its first and last three letters, you get the words “pal” and “try.” Both are pronounced as one might expect, with the short “a” sound from “Al” in the former and the long “i” sound from “cry,” “why,” etc. in the latter. Yet put the two words back together and suddenly the world goes flippin’ bananas, as the first syllable becomes “Pawl” and the second becomes “Tree.” Esperanto’s lookin’ better and better, ain’t it?