BAD BLOOD, BARK UP THE WRONG TREE, and BATS IN (ONE’S) BELFRY, HAVE: American English Idioms #9

Welcome to American English Idioms: Lesson 9. 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.

BAD BLOOD – negative or ill feelings

1. The young man and woman knew their parents would not approve of their marriage because there was bad blood between the families.

2. Those two brothers will never get along. There is too much bad blood between them.

BARK UP THE WRONG TREE – to misdirect one’s efforts or argument

1. If Frank is trying to get a pay raise from the assistant manager, he’s barking up the wrong tree. Only the manager can authorize a pay increase.

2. Janice is angry at me because she thinks I took her books, but she’s barking up the wrong tree. I had nothing to do with it.

This expression stems from the 19th century American frontier practice of hunting raccoons using hunting dogs. When the raccoon attempted to escape up a tree, the dog was supposed to remain at the foot of the tree barking until the hunter arrived. However, if the dog went to the wrong tree, especially at night, or the raccoon jumped to the branches of another tree, the hunter would end up focusing on the wrong tree.

BATS IN (ONE’S) BELFRY, HAVE – harmlessly crazy or eccentric

1. You must have bats in your belfry if you think your parents will let you see that movie.

2. Don’t listen to her. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. She has bats in her belfry.

Synonym: have a screw loose, out to lunch, off one’s rocker

A belfry is the tower of a church where the bell hangs and is analogous to one’s head. If a person has room for bats in his head, his head is full of space rather than brains.

3 thoughts on “BAD BLOOD, BARK UP THE WRONG TREE, and BATS IN (ONE’S) BELFRY, HAVE: American English Idioms #9”

  1. Hello , hind from iraq ,
    -The hate is bad blood for people .
    -The employee is lazy in his job wherefore bark up award
    -the people did not listen to thief politician because he bats in person

  2. Hello,
    I am Albertine
    Very interesting to learn about American English Idioms. It’s not very easy to find out what they want to say, but if you listen carefully, you discover the meaning.
    Thank you

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