Tag Archives: English Words and Phrases

The Greatest English Words and Phrases of 2016

Phrases are part and parcel of language. In every culture, you will find some wise sayings or phrases that you tend to use while conversing with other people. You can either call them proverbs or you can also call them phrases. But if you are not knowledgeable about the phrases and the proverbs and their meanings then you will be the odd man out during a conversation.

Learning phrases and proverbs will help you to understand the mindset of the English speaking people about the individuals, the cultures and the community. Phrases can also give you the option of good sentence making opportunities, and you can memorise some of the phrases and use them for building your sentences.

2016 has brought about a lot of change within the speaking technique of the English language speakers. Now you will see that it is common to use phrases like “Out of the blue”, “Once in a blue moon” ‘Speak of the devil’ and ‘a piece of cake’ in our daily conversation with other people.

You might be familiar with the big fat book called Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Surely you have learnt loads of new words and new phrases from OED. However, with the change in time, you will see that the breadth of the OED book is increasing. The reason being that many new words and phrases are being added to the OED so here you will find the list of some of the most popular phrases of 2016 that has become a trend in the conversations of the English speaking individuals:

Speak of the devil”: You may have often used this phrase when you see a person arrive in between a conversation with whom you were discussing or thinking. Thus this is an interesting phrase that suggests that when a person you are talking to turns up at the moment.

Break a leg”: This is a familiar phrase to you if you are a stage actor. This is a sign of good luck for the actors who are about to perform on the stage.

To hit the nail on the head”: This phrase is used to describe exactly what is causing a situation or problem.

To add insult to the injury’: Are you facing a worse situation? And is there any instance when your situation is getting worst? Then this is the best phrase that can describe your situation in just a single sentence.

To let the cat out of the bag’: Planning for the big surprise? And someone leaked it out to your near ones? Then positively they have let the cat out of the bag. This is an interesting and catchy phrase which has become very popular in 2016, especially among the female teenagers and mid age female segment of English speakers. Only when your secret is revealed, you can use the phrase to describe your situation.

Once in a blue moon’: This phrase denotes an event that happens infrequently. So for denoting the infrequent visits of an old friend you can casually say the phrase.

See eye to eye’: This means agreeing with someone. So next time when you are in same agreement with your friend, you can see eye to eye with that person.

Out of the Blue’: This phrase denotes the meaning of being surprised. This is one of the most commonly used phrases of 2016. Majorly people of all types of cultures who are well versed in English are familiar with this phrase and you will often hear people saying out of the blue to denote the sudden actions of a surprise that they have faced.

You can’t judge the book by its cover’: This phrase indicates that an individual should not be judged solely on the appearance and the external features. This is a rightly said phrase because many times it has been seen that depending on the external features the decision of character analysis of an individual made which should not at all be acceptable.

So now you are well acquainted with the new phrases that are a trend in 2016. You can now use them while making conversation in English and you with the utilisation of the phrases you can now make your language different from others.

Use of French Words and Phrases in the English language

The English language has a great influence of French on its vocabulary, and there are many words from the French origin that are used daily while speaking English. Many of the words might have the same meaning but have been modified in the spelling, but it cannot be denied that they share French roots. It is estimated that near about 28% of the English vocabulary consists of words that have been included from the French language. Like, force, machine, publicity, etc. are of French origin, but presently are used and pronounced as per the English orthography.

French orthography includes nasal vowels that are entire absent from the English language. There are a lot of phrases and words that are being used in the English language without realising that they have been adopted from the French language. Let us study a few of the words and phrases that have transformed English in its modern sense as we study it today.

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Bijou

It is proper French word that has been adopted by the English language. In French, this word means a small gem. However, in the English language, the same word has been adopted but with entirely different meaning and use. From a small jewel in French Bijou was converted to anything stylish with a small size. It might sound funny but is a reality that how the same word has two different meanings. If a person speaking English uses Bijou in any aspect other than jewels in front of a French speaking person, then he might get puzzled and do not understand the reason for using it.

For example, in English one would write, And this was not some tiny bijou hotel foyer. This means that the hotel was not small. The French would use bijou as Je vais vous achater un bijou! It means that I will buy you a jewel.

Femme fatale

This phrase is used as it is in the English vocabulary carrying the same meaning as it has in the French language. The meaning of this phrase means a deadly and seductive woman. It is generally used to describe a woman who is quite dangerous. In English and French it carries the same meaning, but while using this phrase, no one would have ever wondered that it is not an English phrase rather it has been adopted from French. A slight difference is that when this phrase in English is has a very subtle meaning that is a dangerous woman, but in contrast, when the same is used in French it feels to be more sassy in the meaning.

Panache

 In its real sense, the panache is a French word that means a feather or ornament worn above the hat as a decorative item. However, the word found a change in its definition when Henri IV showed courage and bravery. Thus is became a synonym of flamboyance since then. Even though the word is used in English with the same spelling and meaning, but it has less use here. It is majorly used in the French. However, there are still cases where panache is used in daily English conversations.

Je ne sais quoi

When a French person sees something that is very attractive but cannot be expressed in words, he will use the phrases Je ne sais quoi. This phrase has been adopted in the English language but with a reduced intensity of expressions. In English, it would imply a person does not have words to describe anything. However, it can be in positive as well negative sense, but in French has a more of a positive inclination. Thus, one can say that the French expression of the phrase is much more effective than its adopted English version.

Exposé

In the beginning, the word expose was used as a noun meaning telling the reason behind any decision or logic used to solve any problem. Over the years it evolved to be used for unveiling the secret behind any scandal. It came to be associated with a single meaning and bringing in light the faces or facts that have been involved in a fraud. This word means exactly the same in French also. However, in English, it has been modified in the way it is written i.e. expose. Except this, there is no other difference in the meaning or use of this French word.

Eau de toilette

This phrase might sound a little familiar to you. You have read this phrase every time you would have read the contents of a perfume bottle. In earlier times the literal meaning of this phrase is toilet water. Do not get shocked! The times have gone and also the use of the phrase being used for toilet water. However, the meaning of Eau de toilette has now transformed to being a light perfume both in English and French. Hence, you can be relaxed about buying a perfume, but try to notice the phrase printed on you bottle and resist laughing.

Gauche

Talking of French people the word literally means left to them, but the English modification of the word is a little different. In English vocabulary, the word Gauche means something awkward. There is a lot of difference in both the meanings. However, it is assumed that the modification has been adopted because it becomes awkward for the left-handers to live in a place where there is a maximum number of right-handers. Thus, when used in French, it might convey a different meaning.

Here one can see the similarities as well as the differences in the words and phrases that have been adopted in English vocabulary from the French language. There are some adoptions that find a more elaborative meaning in English while others make more sense when used in French.

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Whatever be the case it is difficult to deny that English language’s many words have French origin which is unknown to many. Thus, next time you use any English word try to find out the history of its existence and from where it came to be used in English. It is interesting to know that how two entirely different languages have so much in common to share.