Welcome to American English Idioms: Lesson 6. In this lesson you have 3 American English idioms to read, listen to, translate, and pronounce in English. Please focus and do your best so that you can learn and improve your knowledge of American English idioms. Don’t forget to use the comments section below to share your thoughts and what you’ve learned today.
Directions 1: Watch the video 2 or more times, and pay close attention to the audio and text.
Directions 2: Read the following text in English, then translate it using the translator on this page into your language if needed. When you finish, feel free to write a comment in the comments section below and let us know how you feel about what you’ve learned, as well as what you’ve learned.
AT (ONE’S) WITS’ END
AT (ONE’S) WITS’ END is a colloquial expression that describes when someone is in a state of frustration or perplexity about what to do next. The usage of the phrase can be traced back to the 14th century, when it was used in reference to the mind being used up by anxiety.
One is at one’s wit’s end when they have no idea what to do next. One can be frustrated, have a hard time coping, and feel scared or angry about the unfortunate situation that has been created. The person may need a break from their current emotions or a loved one’s company to relax and think about how to move forward.
One could be said to be at their wits’ end when they are at a loss about what to do next, and in a state of frustration. This could be because they feel like they have tried everything that they know how, but it has not helped them solve the problem. It is not uncommon for people to find themselves at their wit’s end because of an issue with their work or other responsibilities.
The phrase ‘at one’s wits end’ is a common phrase typically used to describe someone who has no idea what to do next. This can be due to being at their limit, or someone who is frustrated by the fact that they are stuck in a difficult situation with limited options.
AT THE DROP OF A HAT
This phrase is often used to describe someone who has quickly and easily left a situation, often with no explanation given.
Many people assume this phrase is talking about dropping a hat off of one’s own head. However, given the context of the phrase, the word “hat” likely means “to leave.” The meaning of this phrase is that someone will depart with absolutely no warning or notice to anyone around them. At the drop of a hat, people could up and leave just as easily as they could have been there for a hundred years.
AT THE DROP OF A HAT refers to the sudden and unplanned occurrence of an event. The phrase is often used in reference to a spontaneous and expeditious action, such as in the sentence: “There was no reason for him to do so, but he dropped his hat on any pretext.
In today’s day and age, it seems that people are always running around without a moment to spare. In this context, “at the drop of a hat” refers to getting up from one activity and going to another quickly. For example, you may need to leave a meeting right in the middle of it if someone has an emergency that needs your attention immediately.
AT THE END OF (ONE’S) ROPE
At the end of one’s rope is a quaint idiom for when someone has reached their limit and cannot deal with the bad situation any longer. The idiom is widely used where I live, at least in informal conversations among family members. It is also the title of a song by Greg Brown.
The phrase, “at the end of one’s rope,” means to be exhausted or stressed to the max. It is a metaphor that equates stress with the feeling of being physically pulled down by a heavy weight. The image it creates is that one is at their breaking point and could not take much more stress before snapping.
A person who is at the end of their rope is, figuratively, very upset and exhausted. They have no more energy to deal with a bad situation. This could be because they are physically or mentally drained, or it could be from being overwhelmed by responsibilities. It can also refer to an addiction.
At the end of one’s rope typically means a person is in a situation, where they feel there is no way to escape or fix their problems. The negativity in this phrase is in the use of “rope,” which generally signifies a physical restraint. A person could be at the end of their rope when they are in a rough situation and have nowhere to turn.