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Idioms for idiots

by Patrick Feary on Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Rule of thumb. The whole nine yards. Straight from the horse’s mouth. Idioms are like fun-sized parables; they illustrate an idea with the kind of arrogance and ambiguity usually reserved for 70s kung-fu film mentors. The problem with idioms though, is that to understand them you either need to have heard them before or at the very least, understand the cultural backstory that spawned them. Because of this, some of your most chortle and/or awe-inducing idioms are lost on the ignorant, the ill-read, and idiots. So what if we could standardise idioms and make it clear, even to an idiot, when we were using one? What would it take to make an idiom for idiots?

For starters, the idiot’s idiom needs to be self-explanatory and independent of any cultural context. But as we’re introducing a new idiom, we still need it to be abstract enough to identify it as one, otherwise people will mistakenly think you’re speaking literally, and not metaphorically like the semantic sensei you are.

To do this we use a common operative noun as a signifier across different idioms. This signifier noun is the badger.

Here are some popular idioms, retooled with badgers to become more accessible and easier to understand.

If you’ll pardon my badger
Former idiom: If you’ll pardon my French
Meaning: If you were in a situation where you had to excuse the presence of your badger, you’d clearly be around someone who might get offended by strong language.

More badger for your buck
Former idiom: More bang for your buck
Meaning: By changing the ambiguity of the noun/verb/onomatopoeia ‘bang’ to ‘badger’, the value of your dollar is clearly demonstrated in a quantifiable unit of measurement?—?the badger.

To have a badger on your face
Former idiom: To have egg on your face
Meaning: Having egg on your face is a totally excusable situation; maybe you just finished a full English breakfast or Halloween attack?
There is absolutely no respectable reason to have a badger on your face and so you should be subsequently embarrassed.

The badger calling the badger a badger
Former idiom: The pot calling the kettle black
Meaning: The accusatory badger is explicitly a badger. As such, his hypocrisy is immediately evident.

Think outside the badger
Former idiom: Think outside the box
Meaning: If all your thoughts are constrained to the interior of a badger, your ideas are likely focused on badger innards. Literally anything and everything, save badger innards, is outside the badger.

Turn over a new badger
Former idiom: Turn over a new leaf
Meaning: A brand new badger is likely to have a clean underbelly. Turning over a new badger is likely to result in a cleaner belly than that of your current dirty badger.

Open a can of badgers
Former idiom: Open a can of worms
Meaning: If you’ve successfully managed to trap multiple badgers in a can, they would be understandably cross about the situation. As such, recapturing and canning these cross badgers is near impossible.

That’s the way the badger rumbles
Former idiom: That’s the way the cookie crumbles
Meaning: Do you know how a badger rumbles? Of course you don’t?—?no-one does. And if we don’t understand it, we sure as hell can’t control it.

Kick the badger
Original idiom: Kick the bucket
Meaning: If you kick a badger, it will undoubtedly end your life.

Pull your finger out of that badger.
Former idiom: Pull your finger out.
Meaning: Pull your finger out of that badger. You should have literally anything better to do than finding yourself in this situation.

About the Author

Creative Strategist, occasional filmmaker and reluctant interpretive dancer.