Idioms are sexy, aren’t they? They look beautiful. They fascinate you. They even go ahead and make you fall in love with them. To me, they simply adorn an otherwise dull piece of text. Before we delve into understanding ‘how to learn idioms and phrases’ for upcoming Bank exams, let’s first apprehend the persona the idioms, in general, carry.
Idioms are intriguing
We all know that an idiom is a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words. Maximum of the idioms that technically seem to express a different meaning, are used in an entirely different context. And this makes idioms intriguing enough to hold people’s attention.
For instance, have you heard the idiom ‘Bluestocking’?
‘Stocking’ is a women’s garment, typically made of translucent nylon or silk, that fits closely over the foot and is held up by suspenders or an elasticated strip at the upper thigh. Now, if you hearing the idiom ‘Bluestocking’ for the very first time, what do you think it could mean?
As per the Cambridge dictionary it simply means ‘an intelligent and well-educated lady who spends most of her time studying and is therefore not approved of by some men’.
However, it’s not like idioms like these are coined out of the blue (which is again an idiom). They have references of their origin in the history. As per Wikipedia, ‘The Blue Stockings Society’ was an informal women’s social and educational movement in England in the mid-18th century. The society emphasized education and mutual co-operation. Until the late 18th century, the term ‘bluestocking’ had referred to learned people of both sexes. It subsequently was applied primarily to intellectual women, and the French equivalent bas bleu had a similar connotation. The term later developed negative implications, and in some instances such women were stereotyped as being “frumpy”. The reference to blue stockings may arise from the time when woollen worsted stockings were informal dress, in contrast to formal, fashionable black silk stockings.
So next time you meet an intellectual or literary woman who seems more interested in books than you, you can call her a bluestocking.
Idioms are cute
I personally find many an idiom engaging enough to be learned and used in sentences wherever it requires.
‘A Couch Potato‘
This cute looking idiom usually refers specifically to someone who watches a whole lot of TV and does nothing else.
It was first used by a 1970’s comics artist who drew lazy, sedentary characters he called couch potatoes. From there, the phrase became an extremely popular way to talk about someone who’s spent so much time in front of the TV that he seems more like a vegetable than a human being.
Source: Couch Potato
Idioms are funny
Have you witnessed someone using the idiom ‘Party pooper‘? Now, this doesn’t mean that someone goes out and poops in a party. It actually refers to a person who dislikes or refuses to participate in social events, often with the result of detracting from others’ enjoyment of such events.
Then we have another idiom ‘Bob’s your uncle‘. This phrase is used to emphasize how easily or quickly something can be done.
Ex. All you have to do is combine all of the ingredients in one pot, let it cook, and then Bob’s your uncle, dinner is ready!
Source: Bob’s your uncle
How to learn Idioms for SBI Clerk Pre 2018?
Now the question arises, what is the way to learn all the idioms that can be asked in one way or the other in upcoming Bank exams, specially in SBI Clerk Pre 2018?
First of all, we need to understand the fact that we can’t learn all the idioms of the world in some specific number of days. So, it’s better to develop a strategy and work accordingly rather than move in a haphazard manner.
As far as Bank exams are concerned, the idioms that are in trend or in the news have high probability of getting featured in your exam. So do not just start cramming idioms from different sources. Make use of some online/offline quality newspapers or blogs and stick to them.
Now let’s finally discuss how we should go about learning an idiom. To help you understand we would first like you to watch this video.
This incident happened this morning in a Press Conference in Delhi and The Times of India online edition took no time to post an article on the same.
We are posting an excerpt of the same here.
Congress was quick to leap on to Shah’s faux pas, with Rahul Gandhi tweetting: “Now that the BJP IT cell has announced Karnataka polls, time for a sneak preview of our top secret campaign video! Gifted to us by the BJP President, our campaign in Karnataka is off to a fabulous start. He says Yeddyurappa ran the most corrupt Govt ever… True”.
Here in the first sentence of the paragraph above, the phrase ‘faux pas’ (fəʊ ˈpɑː) is used. As per Vocabulary.com definition Faux pas literally means “false step” in French, and that’s a great description of what you do when you make a faux pas. It’s a matter of stepping in the wrong direction, or saying exactly the wrong thing. A faux pas can offend people sometimes, but more often it’s just embarrassing for everyone involved.
Now, what’s the key to keep the meaning of the idioms in your memory?
The answer is simple. Learn everything with its context and with some examples of your own. Try asking yourself questions like ‘Who’s the bluestocking around you?’, ‘Who’s the person in your family or among your friends, you can call a couch potato?’, ‘When did you lately witness a party pooper?’, and you can also jog your memory and recall what your latest faux pas was.
Now, take a pause and let me know whether you find any difficulty in recollecting what these specific idioms mean. I hope not much. The mantra is “The more you make use of these idioms in your own words, the more you become able to remember them”. I suggest that you should follow the steps mentioned below to gain a great command over idioms and phrases.
- Do develop the habit of reading quality newspaper every day.
- Try searching for 5-8 new idioms/words in it.
- Try to infer their meaning from the context they are used in.
- Refer to a quality online/offline dictionary and validate your inferences.
- Note down the idioms in your register with the sentence as given in the news.
- Write 2-3 more sentences using the same idiom. These sentences must be your own. In my case, I would have used the youtube video link and shared it in my peer group commenting “Hey guys! See Amit Shah’s faux pas.” Believe me, it will help for sure.
- Do revise or just take a look at all the idioms you learn in the daytime before you go to bed.
- No matter what you study, revise it on the 2nd, the 7th, the 15th and the 30th day from the date you learn it first.
If you are looking for some practice exercises on important Idioms and Phrases you can visit www.smartkeeda.com and practise there. You can also download the respective exercise in PDF. The PDF download option is given on the exercise page itself.
I hope it helps. All the best!