An idiomatic expression is a phrase with a quite special meaning. These phrases can be told by some famous personalities, written in the Bible or mentioned in myths. If you use such expressions in your speech, you show that you are intelligent, erudite and read much.
Nevertheless, many people still do not understand the interpretations or the stories that stand after the idioms. Here you can find the most popular of them. You are welcome to read, explore and remember them. After that, you will be able to support any conversation and show your knowledge of history, literature, and culture in general.
To Wash One`s Hands Off
This idiom dates back to the times of Jesus Christ. The phrase was said by the hegemon of the Roman province of Judaea Pontius Pilate. He had the functions of a judge and had to solve a difficult situation.
The masters of his province wanted him to judge Jesus Christ to death, but he could not do that as he saw that Jesus Christ was innocent. Three times, he rejected to act unfairly, but finally, he gave up and told: «I wash my hands off». In easy words, he told that he was not guilty and the blood of Jesus Christ was not on his hands.
We can say that «to wash one`s hands off» means to absolve oneself of responsibility for doing something. Nevertheless, it often has a negative meaning, showing that a person is not strong enough to prove he or she is right.
The Box of Pandora
The box of Pandora comes from the Greek mythology. Pandora was a beautiful young girl, a wife of Prometheus younger brother Epimetheus. Once she discovered that in their dwelling is a magic box but no one should open it. In that case, the numerous diseases and illnesses would come to the earth and all its creatures.
However, young Pandora was very curious so she waited until her husband left and opened the box. The consequences were horrible and the girl felt very sorry. She asked Zeus to help her. The god closed the box with the hope inside.
The expression “to open the box of Pandora” means to do something with horrible consequences or something you will be not able to reject.
To Cross the Rubicon
This expression comes from Plutarch stories. It is connected with the famous master of Rome, Jules Cesar. Rubicon was a river, which he had to cross, a border between the Umbria and the Cisalpine Gaul. The Roman Senate forbade Cesar to do that, but he did not listen. He crossed the river with his numerous legions. That was a beginning of the civil war between Jules Cesar and the Roman Senate. As we know, finally famous Roman commander conquered the Rome.
Nowadays this idiomatic expression is used to say that there is no way back and someone is ready for the decisive actions.
Die Is Cast
An idiom is associated with the previous one. When Jules Cesar has finally crossed the river, he told, «The die is cast». Suetonius stated that it was said in Latin language, Plutarch was sure it was the Greek language. The meaning is the same, the point of no return.
With the Shield or in It
It is a very popular expression with the Greek roots. Long ago, in the Ancient Greece flourished a very strong city-state that was called Sparta. It was a city-state of brave warriors, strongest in the whole Greece. From the early childhood, the boys were taught to be fearless and merciless.
They had to overcome many difficulties, undergo the initialization and only then, they were able and accessed to fight. When the mother sent off her son, she told him «I`m waiting for you with the shield or in it». In other words, his task was to win or to die fighting. Now it may seem heartless, but for the people of Sparta to lose meant to bring to shame oneself and all the family.
Judas`s Kiss is the idiomatic expression with religious origin. The whole story is about the Jesus Christ who had many followers and students. Judas Iscariot was one of them. Bible says that he betrayed Jesus Christ. As we know, later, the Son of God was crucified. The guards paid Judas to reveal Jesus. In the evening, he kissed him so the guard could see who is Jesus Christ. Nowadays it is a symbol of betrayal and duplicity.
Tower of Babel
The Bible Book says that long ago all the people belong to the same folk. They were very prosperous, healthy and even more – they all spoken the same language. Once in the city of Babylon, they have decided to build a huge tower, so they could see the God.
Their plan showed that they are very high-minded and they have forgotten they are only human beings. Surely, the God disliked such an idea and wanted to punish the people of Babylon. The tower was ruined.
It was a great mess everywhere, but the most important detail was that the people were not able to understand each other anymore. That`s why the different languages exist today and people of all the countries can`t live in peace. Anyway, this story is difficult to prove or to debunk.
Scourge of God
That was a way people called Attila, the ruler of the Huns. He was very strong, powerful and merciless. His warriors killed everyone including women and kids. They destroyed and burn villages, leaving nothing behind themselves. That is why people thought it is a punishment or the scourge.
When we use this expression, we mean that something is a real disaster; it must be some punishment for something. For example, «This toothache is a real scourge of God».