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Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody and welcome back to Top Words. My name is Alisha, and today, we're going to talk about 10 idioms involving animals. So, let's begin.
"Cat nap."
Alright, the first idiom is "cat nap." "Cat nap" means a short nap. So, cats have an image of being able to curl up or to be able to fall asleep for short periods of time almost anywhere. So, a "cat nap" is a person taking a short rest, a short nap. So, in a sentence, "I'm exhausted. I'm going to take a cat nap."
"Clam up."
The next idiom is "clam up." So, "to clam up" means to become very nervous to close. So, the image like--a clam is this creature that lives in the ocean. It looks like this. So, "to clam up." The image is like--you become very closed, very tight, very tense, usually because of nervous feelings. If you feel very nervous, you get closed and close up your body, perhaps. We say that's clamming up. "To clam up" is to get very nervous before doing something may be exciting, or to do something for the first time like a performance. In a sentence, "I clammed up before my debut performance."
"Have a cow."
The next idiom is "have a cow." This sounds like it's such a strange expression, doesn't it? Like to have a cow, like give birth to a cow, maybe, I don't know. But "have a cow" means to get unnecessarily upset about something. So, "to have a cow" means to get too angry, overly angry or overly sad. Usually, it's with anger though. I feel like it's an outburst, a strong quick statement of anger or something. We usually use this with anger, being noisy a little bit. So, we say usually, "Don't have a cow," meaning, "Don't be so angry. Don't be so upset. There's no reason to." Yeah. So, it's in the cases where people are very, very upset, we use this expression. So, in a sentence, "Don't have a cow. We'll fix the problem."
"Elephant in the room."
The next expression--this is a really--I like this expression. It's very cool. The idiom is "elephant in the room." This is a really interesting idiom because it's used in cases where there's one very big topic that maybe everybody--for example, in your workplace or your school, everybody knows about one big topic. Usually, it's something a little bit scandalous or a little bit controversial topic that everybody knows about, but usually, that nobody is talking about. So, to give an example, let's say your coworkers are dating and everybody in the office has realized it, but they, the two people who are dating, have not clearly stated their new relationship. We would say, "Oh, nobody is talking about the elephant in the room."
Some big secret, but not really secret knowledge. Some sort of scandal or some sort of little bit of controversy or drama sometimes. We can call that the elephant in the room. So, some big idea that everybody pretends is not there, like an elephant, it's a big concept, a big topic, a big thing to discuss, like an elephant in the room. Everybody knows it's there, but nobody talks about it. So, in a sentence, "Nobody wants to talk about the elephant in the room, the company scandal." So, here, the scandal or the controversial issue is the elephant, equals the elephant. Interesting expression.
"Wild goose chase."
The next expression is "wild goose chase." "Wild goose chase" usually means like a long chase, a long chase somewhere. You see these and if you watch police shows, especially in the US, the police might chase a suspect in a vehicle for a long time, like around neighborhoods or maybe through difficult to navigate streets. So, it's kind of a crazy chase. Why we use goose? Maybe because geese run in strange patterns or maybe they're just unpredictable, a wild goose, I don't know. But this means just a crazy, long, difficult to follow chase, a wild goose chase. This can mean a physical chase, or it can mean a chase for information. So, for example, if you watch like "CSI," one of those detective, like police drama shows, they might go from piece of information to piece of information trying to find a person who committed a crime or trying to find a solution to something. We could say, "That's a wild goose chase," but in this case, it's through information. So, we can use this for a physical chase, or we can use it for an information chase. You're chasing something through information. That's a wild goose chase. In a sentence, "The police went on a wild goose chase to find the suspect."
"Kill two birds with one stone."
Oh, the next expression is very famous and very, very useful. It's "kill two birds with one stone." So, this is quite easy to imagine, I think. You have one stone. You're hunting. There are two birds there. If you can kill both birds with the same stone at the same time, it's very efficient, right? It saves you time, it saves you energy, and you get these two birds at the same time instead of just one. So, this is an efficiency idiom. So, to kill two birds with one stone means to do one action, to take one action, but to solve more than one problem at the same time through that one action.
For example, if I--let's see. I decided to make a huge pot of soup one night and it's enough for lunch and dinner the next day for me, too. I could say, "Well, I killed two birds with one stone. Like, I have lunch and dinner prepared for the next day." That's two birds, one stone, where each bird in this idiom equals a problem. You could say three birds with one stone if you like, but usually, it's two birds with one stone. In this sentence, "If we plan carefully, we can kill two birds with one stone with this project."
"Crocodile tears."
The next expression is "crocodile tears." This is an expression which means insincere emotions, usually insincere, sad emotions. So, someone who pretends to cry maybe to get attention, or they pretend to be unhappy, they pretend to be disappointed. They're doing it to only get attention. It's not a sincere emotional response. We call that "crocodile tears." I wonder why. I'm not sure why it's called "crocodile tears," but we say that in sincere sadness like that. That fake sadness is crocodile tears. That's what we say. So, in a sentence, "He's not being sincere. Those are just crocodile tears."
"Don't count chickens before they hatch."
Oh, next one is another really famous, really good expression. Maybe you have it in your language, in your country. The expression is, "Don't count chickens before they hatch." So, this means don't consider a problem solved until the problem has already been solved, or maybe don't get too far ahead of yourself, or don't look too far into the future. You have to wait for maybe each part of your plan or each part of your idea to happen before you can say like it's solved. So, let me give you an example. In the idiom, it's "Don't count chickens before they hatch."
So, the image is maybe you have eight eggs, for example, waiting for the chickens to hatch. You could count them, count those eight eggs and say. "Okay. I'm going to have eight chickens." You can expect. "I'm going to have eight chickens." But a maybe raccoon or a dog is going to steal one of the eggs, or maybe you accidentally crush an egg, or something happens and you only have four eggs when the chickens hatch, but you were planning on having eight eggs. So, because you planned on having eight eggs, having only four becomes a problem. So, you could say, "Ah, I shouldn't have counted my chickens before they hatched," like, "I shouldn't have planned for something which I had no control over."
So, in this case, in the chicken example, something beyond my control, out of my control happened and I didn't plan for them. So, in other words, wait to make your plans until you can see the final outcome. That's a good way to summarize this. Wait to make your plans until you know what's going to happen until you can be sure of the actual outcome of the situation. Okay. So, in a sentence, "I'm feeling optimistic about this, but we should be careful not to count our chickens before they hatch."
"No horse in this race."
This expression is "no horse in this race." It means I have no inclination. I have no preference towards one option or another. So, let me give you an example. So, let's use "horse in the race." So, this expression comes from race horses, yeah? So, there are maybe five horses in a race, for example, and the owner of a horse, of course, wants the horse to win, his horse or her horse to win that race. But if I'm just watching the race and I have not bet, I haven't used my money to participate in the race, it doesn't matter to me, I don't care which horse wins maybe. So, I can say, "I have no horse in this race. It doesn't matter to me." So, I have no preference in this situation about maybe which plan we choose. I have no preference about which plan we choose. I have no preference about which decision you make, for example, because I am not invested in this decision. It's not my issue. I have no horse in this race. So, in a sentence, "It doesn't matter to me. I've got no horse in this race." Alright.
"Shoot fish in a barrel."
Okay. The next expression is "shoot fish in a barrel." "Shoot fish in a barrel" means something is very, very easy. So, take the image of this idiom. If a barrel is a large container, a very large container, quite tall I would say, maybe like this. I don't know. Anyway, it's a very tall container. The image is inside the barrel. There are lots and lots of fish. If you go fishing, it's maybe difficult to catch fish, but if fish are just in a barrel and you want to get fish, you can just shoot into the barrel and you will probably hit a fish. It's very easy to hit a fish. So, we use this expression to mean something that is extremely easy, something that is very, very easy is "like shooting fish in a barrel." We usually say, "Like shooting fish in a barrel." In a sentence, "I can't believe how easy this is, like shooting fish in a barrel."
So, those are 10 idioms involving animals. I hope that that was useful for you. If you have any questions or comments, please let us know in the comment section below this video. Thanks for watching this episode of Top Words and we'll see you again soon. Bye.