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Teaching materials of American Idioms written by Andrew Yan|
Chapter 1 Life kaleidoscope 人生百态
Unit 1 He is just a bull in a china shop1.
China is fragile and delicate. Bulls are anything but careful. A bull in a china shop would wreak havoc.
 Mr. Dong arranged a dinner party for the foreign teachers and some of the school leaders. Marston suggested inviting Mr. Chen, saying perhaps he could interpret for him. Mr. Dong shook his head and said, “His English is much better than any of ours. But he likes to show off2 for the ladies. It’s a bore3 watching him put the moves on4 anything that wears a skirt. He is just a bull in a china shop. So let him stay at home and we can enjoy more leisurely time. ”
 “You said it5. He is really a bore sometimes but he is not such a bull in a china shop as you accuse him of being. He is a real Romeo. But to do him justice6, most of the time he is very prudent and discreetly thoughtful. I like to chat with him on a variety of topics ranging from history and geography to English.” Marston said.
 “我同意。他有时候的确很讨厌，但他也不像你指责的那样莽撞好闯祸。他是个地地道道的情种。不过说句公道话，多数情况下他还很谨慎，对人体贴入微。我很喜欢和他聊天，从历史，地理、到英语无所不谈，” 马斯顿说。
1. bull in a china shop someone who is clumsy and upsets other people or plans 卤莽之人；笨拙而搅乱他人计划的人
☆ He was like a bull in a china shop when I saw him at the meeting last week.
2. show off [俚]炫耀; 招摇
☆ Those who like to show off in public should be taught their place.
3. a bore 使人讨厌的人、事
1) It's a bore having to go out again.
2) It's a bore for little children having to go to school every day.
4. put the moves on 以色情引诱; 设法引诱
☆ Tom is a hooligan and is trying toput the moves on the new secretary.
5. You said it. [美俚] 知道了; 我完全同意。
A: That sure was a good show.
B: You said it.
6. do sb. or sth. justice to treat adequately, fairly, or with full appreciation:适当地、公平地对待，充分地评判
☆ The subject is so complex that I cannot do it justice in a brief survey.
A: Hi, honey! Don’t let your nephew into my study, ok?
B: Alright! I’ll take him out at once. He likes to meddle with your things.
A: I like him but he is a bull in a china shop. As you know, my old paintings and coins are all rare and valuable, costing me an arm and a leg （花去好多钱）. I hope you can understand why I don’t allow him into my study.
A: Yes, I understand. But if he does break something, it’s not the end of the world.
A： 喂，宝贝！别让你侄儿进我的书房，好吗？ B： 好的！我立马就把他带出去。他喜欢乱动你的东西。
A： 我喜欢他, 但是他是个莽撞闯祸的小家伙。你知道，我的老字画、古钱币都是非常值钱，它们花了我们大把大把的钱呀。我希望你能理解我为什么不许他进我的书房。
Unit 2 Your loss is nothing but a drop in the bucket1
as compared with your health. 你的损失与你的健康相比而言，只是九牛一毛而已。
A bucket holds many drops. One drop in the bucket is insignificant.
一只水桶可盛好多滴水。“One drop in the bucket”意思就是微不足道。
 Gloria, having staked on（下赌注）the wrong horse ten races in a row（连续地）last month, was downcast and sort of absent-minded. It seemed to her that everything had gone haywire2, and she sighed as if she had been thrown into an abyss of despair（绝望的深渊）.
 This morning her good friend, Alison, called and asked her over for dinner tonight. Anyhow, she tried to turn Alison down and excuse herself from3 the gathering. But Alison wanted to cheer her up a little bit because she didn’t have it in her heart4 to let her fall into a deep depression（消沉） like that. Alison went to great lengths5 （竭尽全力）to turn her around and Gloria agreed to get together with her at night.
 After dinner Alison began to say something pleasant in order to relieve Gloria of her cares and worries. Alison really demonstrated her skillful eloquence by bringing home to6 Gloria that worries could do no good to a heart laden with grief. Gloria apologized to her for her being so extremely panicky （恐慌万状）.
 Alison continued saying like this, “No hard feeling7. Care even kills a cat（忧虑伤身）. So my dear friend, listen to reason. Don’t take it too much to heart, what you have lost is nothing but a drop in the bucket as compared with your health.”
 艾丽森接着这么说：“别太难过！忧虑会伤身的。 所以我亲爱的朋友，请听我的劝说。别往心里去，你的损失与你的健康相比而言，只是九牛一毛而已。”
1. a drop in the bucket: an insufficient or inconsequential amount in comparison with what is required 沧海一粟; 九牛一毛
☆ We passed the hat to collect some money for the homeless people, but it’s not enough. It is just a drop in the bucket.
2. go haywire: mentally confused or crazy: 发疯的；出毛病
☆ The computer was out of use in the past, so now it goes haywire from time to time, seriously affecting work proficiency.
3. excuse oneself from: 借故推托, 婉言拒绝
☆ When invited to Mary’s birthday party, John tried to excuse himself from the party for fear of meeting his ex-girlfriend.
4. have it in my heart (to do sth.): [常用于否定句中]忍心; 很想
☆ Having seen him down and out this way, I don’t have it in my heart to leave him to fend for himself.
5. go to great lengths: 竭尽全力
☆ In order to find a niche in society, the ambitious young man goes to great lengths to climb the social ladder.
6. bring home to sb.: 使自己意识到, 使自己清醒过来
☆ What do I have to do to bring home to you the urgency of the situation?
7. no hard feeling: used after a disagreement to tell someone that you aren’t angry. 不见怪，别难过
☆ Hey, man. No hard feeling. I don’t think it worth crying over spilt milk.
A: Thanks a lot for your kindness in contributing to our Hope Project Fund.
B: It is not worth mentioning.
A: Anyway you have done a good turn to the poor kids in the poverty-stricken areas.
B: I’m just trying to express my affection for the poor who are in need of our help. What I have done is just a drop in the bucket.
A: I sincerely express our gratitude to you for your kindness on behalf of the poor kids.
Unit 3 Mr. Yan, you can’t eat your cake and have it, too1.
This phrase drives my father up the wall. He always says, “Of course when you eat your cake you still have it. It’s in your stomach.” He’s right, but you get the general idea.
 I told Marston I was stuck between the horns of a dilemma2: that I wanted to seek a well-paid job in Hong Kong and at the same time I wanted to stay in Beijing to care for my family. But in fact it was out of the question3. If I left home to hunt for a better job, I had to leave my loved ones behind. So my present situation was a conundrum4.
 But Marston laughed at my indecisive waffling5. He uttered firmly, “Follow your heart or stay put without thinking about unrealistic prospects. Listen to me, Mr. Yan. You can’t eat your cake and have it, too. Every coin has two sides6. Advantages and disadvantages co-exist.”
 However, my wife was reluctant to leave me on the drift（[美]因失业而流浪）, saying, “You are already in your forties and not in top form（竞技状态很好）. Most people your age face the same problems, but they are also swayed between gains and loss. Anyway we can live peacefully here in Beijing. Why do you want to dance to another tune（改弦易辙）in life? ”
 I was really at a loss about what course to follow. But my dream was not dashed anyway.
1. eat your cake and have it,too: 鱼与熊掌不可兼得。
☆ Don’t grumble about your expensive holiday, you had great fun. You can’t eat your cake and have it, too.
2. between the horns of a dilemma: 左右为难
☆ His wife had a quarrel with his mother; he tried every means to mediate between them both. But they continued their quarrels; they didn’t realize they were putting him between the horns of dilemma.
3. out of the question:不值得考虑；不可能
☆ Starting over is out of the question.
4. conundrum: 进退维谷；难题
☆ Her question is a real conundrum.
5. waffling: 无聊话, 动听而无意义的话
☆ You keep waffling; what do you really think?
6. every coin has two sides: 事物都是一分为二，有正也有反面。
☆ Don’t find fault with her, she is still just an 18-year-old girl. Every coin has two sides.
A: Don’t say it is not worth the money you’ve paid.
B: But it is really so. I paid through the nose（被勒索）in fact. The dealer bled me white, taking me in with his sweet talk.
A: But it was entirely your own fault. In the market you were so pleased with a the coat. You told me you liked the material, the fabric, the style and everything. But now you regret having paid too much for the coat. No one can eat his cake and have it, too.
B: It is not your money, so you don’t need to feel depressed.
A: I do feel for you. But it is an accomplished fact（既成事实）. Just chalk it up to experience and next time you won’t overpay.
A: 我真心同情你。不过已既成事实了。 权且当作一个教训，下次你就不会多付钱的。
Unit 4 Don’t dice with death1.
To dice is to gamble.
 Marston bought a new motorcycle in February for the purpose of getting around more easily, but our local police wouldn’t grant him a license for the benefit of his safety. Marston had to argue and reason with them, saying angrily, “I have been endowed with a permanent residence certificate in China. I get married to a Chinese lady in Shanghai. I ought to be treated as an ordinary Chinese citizen. Why can’t I have that license? It is unfair! ”
 The policeman in charge of licenses told him, “It is for your own good. Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous. We hope you won’t dice with death or take the risk of2 losing life needlessly. ”
 Hearing these harsh words, Marston got even more outraged and shouted to them, “I’ve ridden a motorcycle for more than thirty years back in the States. I am a seasoned pro3 at motorcycling. Please, rest assured4 that I can handle a motorcycle safely.”
 In the end, the police had to issue the license and Marston could ride his shining motorcycle here and there in the city and catch the eyes of5 the beautiful local ladies.
 为了来来往往方便些，马斯顿在二月份买了辆摩托车，但是当地的公安局考虑到他的安全不给他发放牌照。马斯顿和他们评理，气愤地说：“ 我在中国享有永久居住证。我和上海的一位中国女士结婚了。我确信我理应受到一个普通中国公民的待遇。我为什么得不到牌照？这不公平。”
 负责办理牌照的警察告诉他：“ 这是为你好。骑摩托车很危险。我们希望你不要玩命或者说不必要冒丧命的危险。”
 听到这么尖刻的话，马斯顿更加生气，便冲着他们叫嚷起来：“ 在美国我已经骑了三十多年的摩托车。我可是骑摩托的高手。请放心，我会安全驾驶摩托车的。”
1. dice with death: 拿性命开玩笑；冒险；玩命
☆ Don’t dice with death by climbing up the mountain in such bad weather.
2. run/take the risk of doing sth: 冒险做某事
1) The girl took the risk of stealing the precious documents from the foreign company.
2) The brave soldier ran the risk of spying on the enemy stationed at the foot of the hill.
3. a seasoned pro: 经验丰富的高手；老练的好手
☆ These young bucks can’t compete with a seasoned pro like me.
4. rest assured: 确信无疑; 放心
☆ You may rest assured that we can bring the project to a completion at the end of May.
5. catch sb.'s eye：引起某人注意
☆ The luxury sports car caught the eye of some pretty ladies who dream of going for a drive.
A: What are you doing here?
B: Oh, can’t you see what I am doing now? I am trying to fix the electricity because the fuse was just burnt up.
A: Oh, no. Please get down, my dear friend. It is too dangerous for a young lady to do that.
B: Never mind. I can manage with it.
A: Knock it off right now. I will send for the janitor. I think you are dicing with death.
A： 嗨！你在这儿瞎捣鼓什么呀？ B： 哦，你就看不出我在干吗？保险丝烧断了，我在修理电嘛。 A： 呃，不。请下来，亲爱的朋友。一个年轻的女士做这事儿太危险了。 B： 不用担心！我能行的。 A： 现在就停下来。我会请来电工的。我想你是在玩命。
Unit 5 You have to lie in the bed you’ve made1. 你自作自受，甘受惩罚吧。
Also sometimes phrased, “You’ve made your bed, now lie in it,” this is perfect for accusing someone of creating his or her own problems.
这个短语也有的时候写成“You’ve made your ed, now lie in it.”, 是用来指责某人自找麻烦的一个极好的短语。
 Yesterday something I had said seemed to have offended Miss Liang. This morning when I entered the office, I heard her kicking the chair and shouting so angrily, “Damn!” I felt quite at a loss and showed a clean pair of heels2.
 In the afternoon I told Marston about it; he tore into3 （严厉斥责）me right, “I don’t know why sometimes you like to pry into others’ affairs4（管闲事）and point out others’ mistakes in public. She is a girl and of course she might think you are trying to pick holes in5 her work and put her into disgrace6Now it is time for you to lie in the bed you’ve made and take your medicine7 like a man. Try to apologize to her. Maybe she will pardon you. ”
 I tried to find a chance to apologize to her but anyhow I meant no offense to Miss Liang when I pointed out her mistakes.
 Quite perplexed, I pondered over what he said. Anyhow, I should make a rule: never poke my nose into others’ affairs unless it concerns me.
 昨天，我不知道说了些什么好像得罪了梁小姐。今天早上，我走进办公室时，就听见她在踢椅子，愤怒地叫骂起来：“你真该死！” 我不知所措，只好溜之大吉。
 我想找个时间向她道歉，但是不管如何，当我 指出她的错误时，我绝对无意要冒犯她。
1. lie in the bed one has made: have only oneself to thank；stew in one's own juices：自作自受
☆ Tom spoiled his child and the boy refuses to work. Now Tom has to lie in he bed he has made.
2. show a clean pair of heels: 溜走；逃之夭夭
☆ When problems crop up, the coward just shows a clean pair of heels.
3. tear into: 猛袭；痛击; 严厉斥责
☆ Father discovered the mistake and tore into me.
4. poke one's nose into sth.：管闲事
☆ I don’t want to poke my nose into your business, but it is my duty to keep watch over you.
5. pick holes in sth.：find fault with sb. 指责；对…吹毛求疵
☆ Hey, I’ve done nothing wrong. You are trying to pick holes in our work.
6. put sb. into disgrace: make sb. ashamed: 使...丢脸
☆ Don’t show off your ability in the presence of the boss；you just put all of us into disgrace.
7. take your medicine: 受到应得的处罚; 忍受不愉快的事; 甘愿受罚
☆ So, your wife caught you and now she’s going to chastise you. Well, you’re just going to have to take your medicine.
A: Joe got a divorce from Julia, the foxiest lady in the whole world. B: Oh, it is really a great pity. How come?
A: I don’t know the ins and outs of their divorce. But it is said that Joe’s bad habits like gambling and drinking ruined their marriage.
B: That’s too bad. To tell you the truth, it is Joe who has to lie in the bed he has made. But we’d better fix a date and have him over for a chat. We should cheer him up a little bit.
A： 乔和世界上最性感的朱丽亚离婚了。 B： 哦，这真是一大遗憾。究竟为什么呀？
Unit 6 Rain or shine1, I will visit the sick monitor. 不论晴雨，我要看望生病的班长。
Either it’s raining or the sun is shining, so this phrase means roughly “under any conditions.”
 Early in the morning my phone rang loudly. Hardly had I picked up the receiver when I head a girl student gasping2 almost out of breath, “ Mr. Yan! Our monitor is ill in hospital, he wants to see you as soon as possible.”
 But she hung up before I could inquire about the exact condition of the sick boy. I had to leave off3 work at hand4 and go to see the sick monitor. He must be in real trouble and in great need.
 I was about to leave when Miss Yang called to ask me to go on an errand for5 her to town. I had no choice but to tell her the truth, “I am terribly sorry! Rain or shine, I will visit the sick monitor of my class. He is badly ill in hospital. He needs my help anyway.”
 Miss Yang was not pleased to hear that, but I thought she could understand. At crucial moments we have to give priority to6 urgent things.
 一大清早，我的电话就响了。我刚一接听，就听见一个女孩子上气不接下气，气喘吁吁地说：“ 阎先生！我们班长病了住进了医院，他说他想尽快见到你。”
1. rain or shine: whether it is fine or not, no matter what happens: 不论晴雨；无论发生何事
☆ We are so pressed for time but the boss has ordered us to finish the task on schedule. So rain or shine, we must bend over backwards（拼命）and hammer at（致力于）our work until we successfully make it.
2. gasp: utter in a breathless manner: 喘着气说；气吁吁地说
☆ After climbing up the top of the mountain, the beautiful girl gasped, “Here I am! – on top of the world.”
3. leave off：to stop; cease.停止；结束
☆ Time is up for today and we have to leave off here.
4. at hand: 在手边
☆ I’m sorry I have no cash at hand.
5. go on an errand for sb.: 为某人跑腿（办事）
☆ I am an office boy so everyone can order me to go on an errand for them if possible.
6. give (first) priority to: 给...以优先权；优先考虑
☆ This matter is rather urgent and allows no delay; therefore we’d better give first priority to it.
A: How do you get along with your work now?
B: Oh, terrible! I just started of it；I must try my best to work harder or I might not get it through by 6:00 tomorrow.
A: If so, you’d better burn the midnight oil and try hard to get through your work. By the way, would you like me to lend you a hand?
B: No, thanks all the same! I can manage with it all by myself. Rain or shine, I must finish the work on time and no mistake. (无疑地, 的的确确!)
A: Please don’t be so hard on yourself. Call me if necessary.
A： 现在你的工作进展的如何呀？ B： 啊，糟透了。我才刚开始，我必须尽最大的努力，不然不可能在明天6点前完成。 A： 如果那样，你最好熬熬夜，努力把它做完。顺便问一下，你想让我帮帮你吗？
Unit 7 He who strings others along1 will get his2 sooner or later.
A couple of very good ones here. To string someone along is to lead him or her by deception. If someone gets his, it means he gets what he deserves.
又有两个好的短语。“To string someone along” 就是耍计谋来诱骗他或她。如果有人 “get his” ，意思是：他活该如此。
 There are people and people in the world, so we have to know the ropes3 to deal with them or we might be strung along by others.
 Tom is a person who has two faces（口是心非；耍两面派）and tends to lay out all his goods in the window（华而不实） for the purpose of taking advantage of others. Furthermore, he tends to rip off others for his own personal interest. Those who have ever taken up with4 him are still fluttering with5 fear in their hearts（心有余悸）whenever he is mentioned.
 Now they take precautions against him, trying to steer clear of him for fear of being taken in. No matter how shrewd and crafty he becomes, everyone can see through his tricks. It seems that all his schemes fall flat6, with no good coming of his duplicity（搞两面派, 口是心非）. Everyone keeps themselves aloof from him, leaving him high and dry7（孤立无援; 陷于困境）.
 So we sincerely remind people that one good turn deserves another and that he who strings others along will get his sooner or later.
1. string someone along: to fool, cheat, or deceive.愚弄，欺骗
☆ When you have to deal with the local merchants, you have to be on guard against being strung along.
2. get his: deserve punishment; meet with trouble：要遭报应；遇上麻烦
☆ Andy did exceptionally well in all track events, but hegot his in the high jump competition. Much to the disappointment of his fans, he was defeated by his competitors from the visiting team.
3. know the ropes: 熟悉内幕；懂得诀窍
☆ He knows the ropes in doing business with foreign partners.
4. take up with：与...亲密交往
☆ The Arabs are difficult to get closer to because they refuse to take up with foreigners.
5. flutter (with): 悸动, 乱跳, 烦扰; 颤动
☆ His heart fluttered with excitement as he was waiting for the reception by the leaders.
6. fall flat: 达不到预期效果, 完全失败
☆ He planned on how to get the work done but it fell out for some reasons or other.
7. leave someone high and dry: leave sb. in a position of helplessness; stranded 使某人孤独无助；处于无援助的处境；无依无靠地：
1) Faced with trouble, everyone went off and left me high and dry, holding the bag(代人受过).
2) The cruel man took all the money and left his own grandmother high and dry.
Liz: I really had high hopes of marrying Dean. But now my hopes are totally ashed（破灭）.
Mary: How come? It seems that you were made for each other.
Liz: He ran off (eloped) with another woman and of course I realize he was trying to string me along. He definitely turned against me and hurt my feelings.
Mary: Please steer clear of him. You can’t trust a a man who turns his back on (背弃)his beloved. He is playing games with you and has no intention of marrying you.
Liz: I won’t let him off the hook so easily.
Unit 8 Hi, you are falling into a vicious circle1. 喂！你现在陷入了恶性循环的境地！
In a vicious circle, one bad thing causes another bad thing which in turn causes the first bad thing all over again. Most of us are trapped in vicious circles for at least some part of our lives.
 Mr. Yan was greatly afflicted mentally and physically with2 all kinds of problems. He had no regular job and no social security and was, moreover, getting on in years（上年纪; 老起来）. He had no other abilities to tackle his problem but had to grin and bear it（逆来顺受）. He made almost no attempt to change his status quo. He seemed to be as dumb as an oyster3. He kept himself to himself at home, a couch potato in the daytime and a wanderer at night，strolling aimlessly.
 One of his former friends visited him yesterday and was struck dumb4 by his present situation, shaking his head, “How come you have fallen into such a vicious circle? Please keep your chin up（[口]不灰心, 振作起来）and never lose heart. If you don’t struggle up, you will be a total flop5 in life. Ok, I will do whatever I can to get you out of this poor situation. Now let me know what is in your mind.”
 Mr. Yan said listlessly, “It is OK with me, don’t bother me. I don’t need any help. I have to live with6 myself, and then I can just kick the bucket7 and go to meet Karl Marx and argue with HIM about the communism.”
 昨天，他从前的一位朋友来看望他，被他的目前处境弄得目瞪口呆，摇着头说：“你竟然落到这等恶性循环的地步，这究竟是怎么搞的呀？请振作精神，别灰心丧气。如果你自己就不去努力奋斗，你的人生就彻底失败了。 行了，我会尽我所能帮助你摆脱困境的。现在我得知道你心里是怎么想的。”
 阎先生无精打采地说：“ 我很好嘛，别烦我了。我不需要你的帮助。我只好自我忍受，然后脚一蹬就去见卡尔·马克思，那时候我还要和他辩论共产主义呢。”
1. Vicious circle: 恶性循环
☆ Tom hasn’t paid back his old debts and now he has to borrow more money. We all know he is in a vicious circle.
2. be afflicted with: 苦恼, 痛苦, 折磨
1) Thomas was greatly tortured (afflicted)by painful emotions.托马斯深为痛苦的感情所侵扰。
2) The criminal was afflicted with a guilty conscience because he killed an innocent kid. 这位罪犯因杀死一个无辜儿童而受良心的指责。
3. (as) dumb as an oyster [an ox, a fish]:很少讲话, 沉默不语
☆ The man was as dumb as an oyster at the meeting, thinking of his own plans.
4. strike sb. dumb: 使哑口无言, 使目瞪口呆
☆ The managing director suddenly announced his resignation, which struck everyone present dumb.
5. a flop: a failure: 失败
☆ The get-together was a complete flop and nobody enjoyed it.
6. live with:to put up with; resign oneself to: 忍受；顺应
☆ The strong-willed man disliked the situation but had to live with it.
7. kick the bucket: die: 死去
☆ Yesterday that old lady kicked the bucket, relieving her relatives of a burden.
A: Why were you absent from lessons last month? B: I was stuck in a vicious circle. A: Oh, what happened to you?
B: At first I caught a bad cold, but I took it for granted that it would run its course and I would get better very soon, but God played a trick on me. I got pneumonia and had to stay in hospital for three weeks. When I got out of hospital, I received a Dear John letter from my girl friend who informed me she wanted to break up. And ….
B: It is really a great pity. I feel for （同情；怜悯）you. As the saying goes, it never rains but pours. You are really plunged into a vicious circle which you will have trouble pulling yourself out of.
A： 你为什么上个月缺课了？ B： 我陷入到恶性循环之中。 A： 哦，到底发生了什么事儿？
B： 开始我得了重感冒，不过我没当回事儿，以为自然会好的；可是上帝跟我开了个玩 笑。 我又患了肺炎，一住院就住了三个星期。我刚出院，我就收到女友的绝交信，她要和我分道扬镳了。还有……