If u come across an idiom that u are not clear of the meaning,will u look it up?

China
September 21, 2009 6:25am CST
Call me English-aholic! haha So, If I come across an English word or an idiom that someone else has used and I am not clear of the meaning...I will look those up one by one, that's for sure. What about you? Hmmm, for instance...this was just some stuff that I looked up long long ago...so that I could get the idiom, "still waters run deep" clear!Have you ever done that before? Still waters run deep Cynics modify this to, "Still water runs deep and dirty." (21st Century American English Compendium (p.116) (a) Cool water runs deep, (b) Still water flows deep, (c) Still water runs deep and dirty, (d) Still water runs deepest, (e) Still waters run deep. (A Dictionary of American Proverbs by Wolfgang Mieder, Stewart A. Kingsbury, Kelsie B. Harder, 1992, p.642) Something that you say which means people who say very little often have very interesting and complicated personalities. He's quiet and shy, it's true, but still waters run deep. (Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms © Cambridge University Press 1998) Silent and quiet conspirators or traitors are most dangerous; barking dogs never bite; the fox barks not when he would steal the lamb. (E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.) Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep; And in his simple show he harbours treason, The fox barks not when he would steal the lamb; No, no, my sovereign, Gloucester is a man Unsounded yet, and full of deep deceit. (Shakespeare: 2 Henry VI., iii. 1.) A quiet person may be very profound, as in Susie rarely says much, but still waters run deep. The physical observation in this term dates from ancient times, but it has been used figuratively since about 1400. Anthony Trollope amplified it in He Knew He Was Right (1869): "That's what I call still water. She runs deep enough. . . . So quiet, but so clever." (Dictionary.reference.com) Looking it up on the internet maybe I've been wrong about my usage of this phrase. Admittedly I've never never looked it up before, but just used it as per my understanding of large bodies of water. Water, such as in a river or on beach, can be deceptive. On the surface it can appear quiet, calm and inviting, but underneath there may be eddies undertows, or other unseen dangers that are not apparent when just looking at the surface (looking at it superficially). So applying that to life I understood the phrase to be a cautionary admonition meaning things may appear nice, but there may be hidden complications, dangers, etc., that one is not aware of. It doesn't mean that there are necessarily dangers, but just that the possibility is there and one should be cautious. In essence, I just understood it as an admonition of caution. I would use it, for example, if my sister had a new boyfriend and I politely wanted to tell her to be careful -- "Be careful, he may seem like a nice guy, but still waters run deep." I don't know the history and derivation of the phrase, but if the page that Runnery linked to in post #9 can be believed it appears to have had its origins in a Shakespearean play, in which the meaning is negative. So if it is used in a positive sense these days (more than a negative one, anyway) then maybe it is an example of a phrase that underwent melioration. That, of course, is just a wild conjecture. As a matter of interest, I've just run the phrase through my English literature data base and found that the following: Still water runs deep - 1 use (Zane Grey) with positive overtones. Still waters run deep - 10 uses - 5 negative, 2 positive, 3 hard to tell (more or less flatulent use of the expression). (Wordreference.com)
4 responses
@bellis716 (4807)
• United States
21 Sep 09
Since English is my native language, I've never found it necessary to look up the Idioms I hear. I've just always understood the common ones, and the speaker has always made the meaning of the less common ones by their mannerisms.
• China
21 Sep 09
It takes life time for a non-native speaker to know all of the idoms, but it is fun! haha I have to go to antown tomorrow and make a speech! If the speech is meesed up, someone will sure kill me when I come back! :D Well, I don't wanna prepare it since it is so boring! Anyway, I still have to do it whatsoever! Holy Crap! (are they bad words?)
• China
21 Sep 09
It takes life time for a non-native speaker to know all of the idoms, but it is fun! haha I have to go to another town tomorrow and make a speech! If the speech is meesed up, someone will sure kill me when I come back!:D Well, I don't wanna prepare the speech since it is so boring! Anyway, I still have to do it whatsoever! Holy Crap! (are they bad words?)
@bellis716 (4807)
• United States
22 Sep 09
Hiddenwing, Holy refers to something sacred. Craps is a game played with dice, but my dictionary calls crap vulgar slang. The word means something useless, inferior, trash or junk. In the language of the lowest it refers to that which is expelled during a bowel movement.It is definitely not an exclamation that a refined lady should use, in my opinion, although such terms are heard more and more frequently.
@bellis716 (4807)
• United States
25 Sep 09
Hiddenwing, I'm sorry if I have brought your discussion to a screeching halt because of the generation gap (two whole generations).
• China
26 Sep 09
It doesn't matter! Well, I just....wondered about...the words... Actually, if I it comes to a screeching halt anyway...it won't matter either! haha I am just interested in English of all kinds... :D
@dianmelydia (2272)
• Indonesia
21 Sep 09
If i meet such situation, of course i will try my best to look it up. I like to collecting as many as new idioms i meet along my journey of life. I think an idiom is a very sweet words. I've collecting idioms from many different language. Usually i will use the internet for looking up about an idiom means. Then i will comparing the result one by one and also comparing it with other's perpectives. So i can get the best meaning of an idiom. Good luck and have a nice day. Happy mylotting.
• China
21 Sep 09
Sure, I will look it up in a dictionary most of the time! Once in a while, I may get too lazy to do it! I think I know lots of idioms in my native tongue