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Idioms of the Week: Cooking

Learning English as a second language is hard enough, but it can be especially difficult when you run into idioms in casual conversation that don’t mean what they seem. In this weekly series, we’re breaking down common English expressions that are used in everyday conversation, so you’ll be able to expand your language skills and have fun with new English phrases.

Today, we’re keeping to the theme of cooking—but pay close attention, these idioms refer to situations outside the kitchen!

  1. to jump from the frying pan into the fire (verb phrase): to go from a bad situation to a worse one
    Ex: My usual commute home is always terribly slow during rush hour, so I decided to take an alternate route. It turns out I was jumping from the frying pan into the fire—I wound up stuck in even worse traffic.
  2. too many cooks in the kitchen (noun phrase): too many people trying to manage everything causes more problems
    Ex: We couldn’t decide on a theme for the office party. Everyone had a different opinion and no one could agree on the right approach—a classic case of too many cooks in the kitchen.
  3. to grill someone (verb phrase): to question someone without stopping
    Ex: The police officer grilled the potential suspects for two hours to find out who stole the woman’s purse.
  4. to stew (verb phrase): to be in an anxious mood
    Ex: Tom stewed over whether or not his decision to buy a house was financially wise.
  5. half-baked ideas (noun phrase): ideas that haven’t been thought through
    Ex: The millionaire told the entrepreneur that she thought he had too many half-baked ideas, and needed to complete one business plan before starting another.
  6. to cook the books (verb phrase): to record false information in a company’s accounts
    Ex: The accountant cooked the books to pretend that the organization had more profit than it really did.
  7. a recipe for disaster (noun phrase): something that is likely to be a big disaster or mess
    Ex: When Tamara found out her fiance had invited his ex-girlfriend to their wedding, she knew it was a recipe for disaster.

Try using these idioms the next time you practice your English skills. You’ll find yourself using them more naturally in conversation in no time!