English Idioms Book On Sale From July 6-10, 2017

Learning American English idioms is important for learning to speak English fluently. I wrote a book of the 250 most common idioms that are used in business English. These are idioms I have heard frequently while working in American companies during the last 30 years.

If you can learn one new idiom a day, your English speaking skills will be much higher.

Today’s idiom is:

back-of-the-envelope calculations

A rough calculation.

My back-of-the-envelope calculation is that this product will be at breakeven within a year.

Origin

Back-of-the-envelope describes when a person grabs any available piece of paper (such as an envelope or piece of scrap paper) to make a quick calculation with a pen or pencil. Since the calculation is done in haste and without a calculator or spreadsheet, the implication is that the calculation is rough, not 100% accurate.

The book is on sale from July 6 to July 10, 2017 on Amazon and the link is here: https://goo.gl/wt6ECX

All my English as a Second Language books are published on Amazon and the book series can be found on my Amazon Author Page at https://goo.gl/DyFjck

American English Idioms: Step Up To The Plate

American English has dozens of idioms from the game of baseball. These idioms are common in English, and especially business English. I heard these idioms dozens of time while working and so I have written several blog posts about these very American English idioms. Business English uses many sports idioms because they express ideas about competition, winning and losing.

IDIOM

step up to the plate

To step up to the plate means to take responsibility for something or to have the courage to undertake something.

We have to step up to the plate and have the courage to launch our product in the face of the competition, or we won’t know if we have something the market wants to buy.

Origin

In baseball, the batter must step up to home plate and face the pitcher who throws the ball. Thus, stepping up to the plate means a person or a company is ready to start an effort in the face of competition or uncertainty. It means to be prepared to act or to be competitive by taking action.

American English Idioms: Play Hardball

American English has dozens of idioms from the game of baseball. These idioms are common in English, and especially business English. I heard these idioms dozens of time while working and so I have written several blog posts about these very American English idioms. Business English uses many sports idioms because they express ideas about competition, winning and losing.

IDIOM

play hardball or playing hardball

To act in an aggressive way towards someone or a company, especially when competing in a business.

The competition is playing hardball with steep price cuts in an effort to drive us out of business, but we can play hardball, too, with better product design and marketing.

Origin

Hardball refers to baseball, where the physical baseball is hard and solid and can hurt a player if they get hit. In contrast, a similar game is softball where the ball is larger but softer and so does not travel with as much speed. Thus, hardball means an activity or behavior that is difficult and dangerous. In business, it means to compete strongly or use aggressive tactics to get business.

American English Idioms: Play Ball

American English has dozens of idioms from the game of baseball. These idioms are common in English, and especially business English. I heard these idioms dozens of time while working and so I have written several blog posts about these very American English idioms. Business English uses many sports idioms because they express ideas about competition, winning and losing.

IDIOM

play ball

When it is time to “play ball” it is time to begin a work project. It also is said of someone who is willing to cooperate on a joint task.

We have spent long enough developing our strategy. Now it is time to play ball and start competing for business.

Acme Company wants to be our main supplier for components, so they will play ball on giving us price reductions on their products.

American English has dozens of idioms that come from baseball
American English has dozens of idioms that come from baseball

Origin

From a baseball umpire’s command that the baseball game begin; the umpire says, “Play ball,” so the starting pitcher knows he or she can throw the first pitch at the hitter.

American English idioms: Keep One’s Eye On The Ball

American English has dozens of idioms from the game of baseball. These idioms are common in English, and especially business English. I heard these idioms dozens of time while working and so I have written several blog posts about these very American English idioms. Business English uses many sports idioms because they express ideas about competition, winning and losing.

IDIOM 

keep one’s eye on the ball; keep our eye on the ball

To pay attention to all the details of a project.

This project is very complicated, so we need to keep our eye on the ball so there are no mistakes.

American English uses many idioms from the game of baseball
American English uses many idioms from the game of baseball

Origin

In American baseball, the batter trying to hit the baseball must follow the ball as it move towards him or her so they can hit it with the bat; the ball can change its direction, depending on what spin the pitcher puts on the ball when it is thrown. So, keeping one’s eye on the ball means to pay close attention to something. In baseball and other sports, a player trying to catch the ball must look at the ball carefully so they can catch the ball and gets points for thier team.

American English: Drop The Ball

American English has dozens of idioms from the game of baseball. These idioms are common in English, and especially business English. I heard these idioms dozens of time while working and so I have written several blog posts about these very American English idioms. Business English uses many sports idioms because they express ideas about competition, winning and losing.

IDIOM

drop the ball

To make an error and then miss an opportunity to succeed.

Make sure you check the details of the contract so you know when the deadline is—we don’t want to drop the ball and not deliver on time.

American English uses dozens of baseball idioms
American English uses dozens of baseball idioms

Origin

This idiom has origins in American football, rugby or baseball. In these sports, the player has to catch or carry a ball to get points for the team. If they drop the ball, they will not be successful in scoring points or preventing the other team from scoring points (especially baseball).

So, to drop the ball means to fail because of a poor decision, poor skill or inattention to details.

American Idioms: Hit The Ball Out Of The Park

American English has dozens of idioms from the game of baseball. These idioms are common in English, and especially business English. I heard these idioms dozens of time while working and so I have written several blog posts about these very American English idioms. Business English uses many sports idioms because they express ideas about competition, winning and losing.

IDIOM

(hit the ball out of the) park

To accomplish something notable or great.

Our sales team landed a contract to sell our software system to both the U.S. company and all its international subsidiaries, so they really hit the ball out of the park with multiple sales to the same company with the potential for more sales in the future.

American English has dozens of idioms from baseball
American English has dozens of idioms from baseball

Origin

In American baseball, a hitter can hit the ball with such force that it travels outside of the baseball park. In this case, the hitter can run around the bases and score a run (points) for the team. If there are players from the same team already on the bases, they all can return to home plate to score runs (points) for the team. Thus, to hit the ball out of the park can be a big accomplishment for a team.

American Idioms: In The Right Ballpark

American English has dozens of idioms from the game of baseball. These idioms are common in English, and especially business English. I heard these idioms dozens of time while working and so I have written several blog posts about these very American English idioms. Business English uses many sports idioms because they express ideas about competition, winning and losing.

IDIOM

(in the right) ballpark

Whether something is approximately correct or within a reasonable range.

I have written a draft of the press release on our new product. Please let me know if I am in the right ballpark on the details and the message you want our company to convey.

Origin

This phrase is from American baseball where the ballpark is an enclosed space. Thus, this idiom is used to ask if the action being taken is in the right area or not.

American English Idioms: Ballpark Figure

American English has dozens of idioms from the game of baseball. These idioms are common in English, and especially business English. I heard these idioms dozens of time while working and so I have written several blog posts about these very American English idioms. Business English uses many sports idioms because they express ideas about competition, winning and losing.

IDIOM

ballpark figure

To give a rough approximation or estimate.

I don’t need to know an exact figure right now. Just give me a ballpark figure on roughly how many units we can sell per month so I can coordinate with the production team on how much raw material we need to order.

American baseball parks vary in size and this gives ballpark estimate to mean a rough calculation
American baseball parks vary in size and this gives ballpark estimate to mean a rough calculation

Origin

Baseball is played in an enclosed space called a “park”. Other sports are played in enclosed areas called a “stadium”

This idiom refers to a baseball park, which is an enclosed space, but a baseball can be hit and land in many places within the ballpark, and so estimating where a ball might land is an educated guess, an inaccurate estimate or rough approximation within acceptable grounds.

Also, baseball parks in various cities are not all the same size; some are larger than others, in contrast to a football (soccer) or American football field or basketball court that are always the same size in length and width.

Business English using Idioms

AMERICAN ENGLISH IDIOMS THAT COME FROM BASEBALL

American idioms includes dozens of terms from the game of baseball
American idioms includes dozens of terms from the game of baseball

INTRODUCTION

 

American English has dozens of idioms from the game of baseball. These idioms are common in English, and especially business English. I heard these idioms dozens of time while working and so I have written several blog posts about these very American English idioms. Business English uses many sports idioms because they express ideas about competition, winning and losing.

I mentioned to my Japanese colleague that he had “knocked the ball out of the park.”

He replied, “What park?”

I said, “It is a common American baseball idiom — it means you did a great job.”

He said, “Why didn’t you just say that I did a great job?”

I replied, “Because an idiom is a shorter and more lively way of saying something.”

He asked, “Can you give me a list of these baseball idioms, please? We don’t learn this everyday English at university.”

I thought of ten useful baseball idioms and gave the list to him, along with explanations of their origin and an example.

The next time we talked he was using these idioms with ease and found his English was more interesting for native speakers.

AMERICAN BASEBALL IDIOMS

The game of baseball has given the English language dozens of idioms. Baseball was the most popular sport in America beginning the mid-1800’s It was America’s first popular sport and so many books and poems have been written about the sport. Since baseball has been popular for over 150 years, dozens of common American idioms use baseball terms. Every major city in America has a baseball team and 70 million people attend a baseball game during the baseball season from April to November. Each team plays 162 games during the baseball season.

Here are some of the most common and useful baseball idioms. An explanation for the origin of the idiom is included to help understand what the idiom means.

IDIOM 1

ahead of the curve

To take proactive action to gain an advantage over a business competitor.

If we want to beat our competitor, we need to get ahead of the curve on a design that solves the customer’s problems better.

Origin

A pitcher in baseball throws the ball at a batter. Skilled pitchers can make the baseball spin and curve as it heads for the batter. If a batter wants to hit the ball, he or she must see the change in the direction of the ball as it flies towards them and change the way they swing the bat to compensate for the curve in the ball’s flight. So, the batter gets ahead of the curve by anticipating how the ball is flying towards them at speeds of up to 80 and 100 miles per hour (125 to 160 kilometers per hour).