thanksgiving blog post

Seven Thanksgiving Related Words and Phrases

Happy Thanksgiving holiday Voxy users, friends, and fans! It’s the last Thursday of November recognizable by its long grocery store lines, family reunions, preparation for shopping extravaganzas, as well as the appearance of certain words, phrases, and expressions.

Let’s take a look at seven useful words and phrases that you might’ve come across during this holiday season or that are in some shape or form related to the symbols of the holiday.

(1) To gobble up


Meanings:
a) an idiomatic expression that means to eat something completely and rapidly
b) an idiomatic expression that means to use up, buy up, or occupy all of something
Sample sentences:
a) The wolf wanted to gobble up the little pig.
b) The shoppers gobbled all the sale merchandise up in a few hours.
Thanksgiving relevance: The delicious food served on Thanksgiving day is often gobbled up, and the sound turkeys make is known as a “gobble.” In addition, shoppers also gobble up stores on the day after Thanksgiving (see below).

(2) Cornucopia


Meaning: A goat’s horn overflowing with fruit, flowers, and grain, signifying prosperity. Also known as a “horn of plenty.” It can be used to mean abundance.
Sample sentence: I was presented with a cornucopia of employment opportunities.
Thanksgiving relevance: It is a symbol in Western art and is especially associated with the Thanksgiving holiday in North America.

(3) Tofurkey


Meaning: It is a blend of the words “tofu” and “turkey.” A faux turkey meat substitute usually made of tofu or seitan.
Sample sentence: My non-vegetarian friends couldn’t believe my tofurkey wasn’t made out of real meat!
Thanksgiving relevance: In order to not miss out on traditional Thanksgiving festivities, vegetarians and vegans often eat Tofurkey instead. It is prepared so as to mimic the way turkeys are prepared for the Thanksgiving meal, with stuffing inside made from grains and/or bread and flavored with broth, herbs, and spices.

(4) Food coma


Meaning: A colloquial term for postprandial somnolence which is a state of drowsiness after a meal has been consumed.
Sample sentence: I fell into a deep food coma after gobbling up that Thanksgiving meal.

(5) Black Friday


Meaning: The Friday following Thanksgiving Day in the United States, often regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. In recent years, most major retailers have opened extremely early and offered promotional sales to kick off the holiday shopping season.
Sample sentence: I plan to finish all of my Christmas shopping on Black Friday!

(6) Cold turkey


Meaning: an idiomatic expression meaning immediately; without tapering off or cutting down gradually
Sample sentence: Tom stopped smoking cold turkey.

(7) Turkey Trot


Meaning: A fun run or footrace, usually of the long-distance variety, that is held on or around Thanksgiving Day in the United States.
Sample sentence: Runners take off for the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving in San Jose.


Militza Petranovic
Militza is a Pedagogy and Research intern at Voxy. She is currently finishing up her master’s degree in Applied Linguistics at Columbia University’s Teachers College and received her bachelor’s degree in Theoretical Linguistics from the University of California – Santa Cruz in 2012. Militza is interested in researching all aspects of how web technology can help facilitate learning, particularly language learning.

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married_greener_grass_750

Five Color Idioms Part 3: Green

Today we’re “going green” in the third installment of the color idiom series!

Green is considered one of the basic colors and is one that is associated with jealousy, nature, good luck, and growth in Western/American culture according to this beautiful graphic.

Check out the following five green idioms! Also be sure take a look at more color idioms from previous weeks’ blog posts. See white and black.

(1) (to be) green with envy


Meaning: very envious
Sample Sentence: I was green with envy when I heard that my cousin would be going to London for a week.

(2) to give the green light


Meaning: to give approval to proceed
Sample Sentence: The company finally has the green light to start the project.

(3) (to have a) green thumb


Meaning: to be good with plants/gardens
Sample Sentence: I should ask the green thumb next door what he recommends for my droopy daffodils

(4) the grass is always greener on the other side


Meaning: a place or situation that is far away or different seems better than one’s present situation
Sample Sentence: I sometimes think I’d be happier living in Spain. Oh well, the grass is always greener on the other side!

(5) green around the gills


Meaning: sickly
Sample Sentence: My friend looked green around the gills after the long bus ride.


Militza Petranovic
Militza is a Pedagogy and Research intern at Voxy. She is currently finishing up her master’s degree in Applied Linguistics at Columbia University’s Teachers College and received her bachelor’s degree in Theoretical Linguistics from the University of California – Santa Cruz in 2012. Militza is interested in researching all aspects of how web technology can help facilitate learning, particularly language learning.

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pot-kettle

Five Color Idioms Part 2: Black

In the second installment of the series on idioms and colors, attention will be turned to the opposite of color of white: black.
What associations do you have with the color black? Taking a look back at the beautiful graphic posted in last week’s blog post: authority, death, eternity, evil, mourning, and style are all cited as Western/American concepts that correspond with the color black.

Let’s see how the following five idioms exemplify these ideas:

(1) blackmail (someone)

Meaning: to extort or take money from someone by threatening him or her
Sample Sentence: The photographer tried to blackmail the famous actress with some photographs that he had taken.
In Pop Culture: A famous Alfred Hitchcock thriller drama film from the 1920s is called Blackmail.

(2) the new black

Meaning: used to say something is the most popular of fashionable color or thing at the moment
Sample Sentence: Designers say that brown is the new black
In Pop Culture: A recently popular Netflix original show Orange is the New Black came up with its name by playing with the fact that women in American prisons often wear bright orange jumpsuits which are not considered very fashionable, to say the least.

(3) black sheep (of a family)

Meaning: a person who is a disgrace to a family or group
Sample Sentence: The man is the black sheep in his family and has not made a success of his life.
In Pop Culture: This comic strip is entitled Black Sheep and its content focuses on nonconventional ideas.

(4) blacklist (someone)

Meaning: to exclude or ostracize someone, to write someone’s name on a list if they break some rules
Sample Sentence: The sports federation blacklisted the swimmer because he was using steroids.
In Pop Culture: A new hit TV show on NBC about the FBI, fugitives, and dangerous criminals is called The Blacklist.

(5) pot calling the kettle black

Meaning: the person who criticizes or accuses someone else is as guilty as the person he or she criticizes or accuses
Sample Sentence: My friend criticized me for not changing jobs but that is like the pot calling the kettle black. She will not change jobs either.
In Other Cultures: This image here shows similar idioms in other languages that mean the same as “pot calling the kettle black” in English.


Militza Petranovic
Militza is a Pedagogy and Research intern at Voxy. She is currently finishing up her master’s degree in Applied Linguistics at Columbia University’s Teachers College and received her bachelor’s degree in Theoretical Linguistics from the University of California – Santa Cruz in 2012. Militza is interested in researching all aspects of how web technology can help facilitate learning, particularly language learning.

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brain-color

Five Color Idioms: White

It can be said that color succeeds in communicating without uttering a word. However, what exactly is communicated is very much culture dependent due to the multitude of symbolic representations associated with colors in any given culture. It makes sense, then, that colors often appear in various language expressions and are used to convey non literal meanings.

Today’s color of choice is white, in what will hopefully become a mini series on idioms and color in the English language.

Check out the following five white color idioms below.
For idioms with the color black, see: Part 2: Five color idioms: black.
And for green, see: Part 3: Five color idioms: green.

(1) raise (or wave) a white flag

Smiley face
Meaning: to indicate that you have been defeated and you want to give up
Sample Sentence: After we captured them, they had to raise a white flag.
Pop Culture Reference: Pop singer Dido references the symbolism represented in this idiom in her song “White Flag,” singing: “..and I won’t put my hands up and surrender. There will be no white flag above my door…”

(2) white-tie event/affair

Meaning: an event that requires guests to wear formal dress such as men wearing white bow ties with formal evening attire
Sample Sentence: There was a white-tie wedding ceremony last week which I had to attend.
Pop Culture Reference: Band names are known for being creative or including play on words. The pop/electronica band The White Tie Affair chose to name themselves with this idiom.

(3) white elephant

Meaning: a useless, an unwanted possession that often costs money to maintain
Sample Sentence: Your car is a white elephant, as it often breaks down, causing you too much expenditure.
Pop culture reference: As one alternative to the Western Christmas gift exchange tradition of “Secret Santa,” a White Elephant gift exchange includes a group of family, friends, or coworkers each of whom gets one wrapped gift. Staying true to the idiom’s meaning, the gifts are usually inexpensive, humorous, or used items from home, seeking to provide entertainment for those involved rather than value.

(4) white lie

Meaning: a harmless or small lie told to be polite or to avoid hurting someone’s feelings
Sample Sentence: He told a white lie when his father asked where he was going.
Pop Culture Reference: The popular TV series Breaking Bad has gained so many fans across the world that some have decided to craft special beers in honor of the protagonist Walter White who told many white (and perhaps even more unwhite) lies throughout the show. The india white ale beer is a play on words in itself, named Walt’s White Lie.

(5)  white as a sheet

Meaning: pale
Sample Sentence: Jane was as white as a sheet because of the illness she had suffered for months.
Pop Culture Reference: In the poem Song of Myself, in the famous poetry collection Leaves of Grass, the great Walt Whitman writes the line: “The captain on the quarter-deck coldly giving his orders through a countenance white as a sheet…”

This beautifully done graphic by Information is Beautiful illustrates 84 different emotions, ideas, or symbols represented by 10 majorly recognized cultures. Take a look and see if any of the aforementioned English idioms match up with the ideas represented by the color white in Western/American culture.


Militza Petranovic
Militza is a Pedagogy and Research intern at Voxy. She is currently finishing up her master’s degree in Applied Linguistics at Columbia University’s Teachers College and received her bachelor’s degree in Theoretical Linguistics from the University of California – Santa Cruz in 2012. Militza is interested in researching all aspects of how web technology can help facilitate learning, particularly language learning.

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