What do you think of when you hear the word “idiom”?

Most people give you that look a puppy has the first time you say “sit.” They cock their heads and give you a bewildered look, like “huh?”

An idiom sounds dumb but is actually very smart. Idioms are ways of saying something without saying it. For example, if I say I’m pulling your leg, it means I’m joking.

Really? How does pulling someone’s leg mean it’s a joke?

What’s the answer? Come on. Spill the beans. Spill the beans?

We use these idioms every day without a second thought. The English language is a very funny thing with all our slang and idioms.

It’s like you don’t have to speak the language, but yet everyone knows what you’re saying. Look at this from an alien’s perspective. From their world, they study our language to learn what we’re all about. Then, they listen to a conversation on the street, and here’s what they hear:

Are you gonna audition for the part?

I’m still on the fence.

Well, if you do, break a leg.

If I do, I may go down in flames. Then again, I might make it by the skin of my teeth.

Don’t beat around the bush. Decide.

I might just bite the bullet, but it won’t be a piece of cake. They say we’re a dime a dozen, and I might be beating a dead horse by trying again, but if I don’t, I may miss the boat.

OK, so what did that poor alien understand from this conversation? For some reason the one guy is gonna sit on a fence and the other guy hopes he breaks his leg up there. But if he falls he might burst into flames or skin his teeth. Huh?

Once he gets down, he’s going to spank a shrub and bite a bullet while eating a piece of cake? Then he’s going to get 12 dimes, find a horse that just died and beat him with them, but it might cause him to miss his cruise departure.

And you wonder why the aliens haven’t landed yet. Why conquer a race that’s already lost its mind? And yet we all know exactly what they’re talking about. Is that scary or what?

My head is spinning just wrapping my arms around it, so if you’re ever in my neck of the woods, let’s chew the fat about it, but for now I think I’ll hit the sack.