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Teacher Ramsy de Vos
Foreign Languages Department
English Teacher

RSS English Idioms

Slowly, slowly catchy monkey

Softly, softly, catchee monkey is a variation of "Softly, softly, catchee monkey". It is an Ashanti (Ghana) proverb quoted by Lord Robert Baden-Powell, Founder of the Boy Scouts.

From the people of Ghana, Baden-Powell learnt the phrase `softly softly catchee monkey' - and he learnt that he could get the best work out of his force by dividing it into small groups, or patrols, and giving responsibility to the captain of each group.

It's discussed in Eric Partridge's "Dictionary of Catch Phrases." Partridge says it means "Gently does it!" and probably appeared in the late 19th century. Origin is hazy because the phrase was largely "neglected by the editors of the relevant works of reference." Partridge quotes a paraphrase by Wilfred Granville, "Dictionary of Theatrical Terms" (1952): "Stalk your prey carefully; or, generally, to achieve an object by quiet application."

Young at Heart

If you are 'Young at Heart', you think, feel or act like young person despite being older.


Despite being over seventy he keeps playing tennis every day.  He is truly amazing and so young at heart!

Wrap your head around

If you are trying to 'wrap your head around' something, you are trying to understand something that is very foreign to you.


"I can't wrap my head around quantum physics—it's so complex!"

"She finally wrapped her head around the new software update."

"They couldn't wrap their heads around the sudden policy changes."

"Once you wrap your head around it, chess becomes very enjoyable."

"He's struggling to wrap his head around the idea of moving abroad."

Try your hand at

If you try your hand at something, you attempt something for the very first time.


"After years of office work, she decided to try her hand at pottery."

"I thought I'd try my hand at writing poetry this weekend."

"They're trying their hands at digital photography to capture stunning landscapes."

"Why not try your hand at gardening? It's quite relaxing."

"They're going to try their hand at sailing during their holiday."

Stuff Your Face

If you "stuff your face", you eat a lot of food.


He stuffed his face with sweets all day and felt very ill afterwards

Be in deep water

To be in 'deep water' is to be trouble or in a difficult or serious situation:

Example: "The director knew he'd be in deep water if he didn't mention his wife in his acceptance speech."

Thief don

"Thief don’t like to see thief carry long bag" means that a dishonest person dislikes competition from other like-minded persons.

Editor's note:  There are a few variations of this idiom found online, such as "Tief nuh like si neda man wid long bag" and "Thief neva like fi see thief with long bag", but they all express the same idea.

Go to the foot of our stairs

Can also be "go to our house" and is an expression of astonishment.


Originally a western communist who supported Stalin's authoritarianism, usually backed by tanks, the modern tankie supports pretty much any authoritarian government or dictatorship that opposes the West.

Close to the vest

If you keep things close to the vest, you try to keep things secret or avoid taking risks.


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