Oh, — nothing, said Lewisham blandly, with his hand falling casually over his memoranda. What’s your particular little game? (H.
W.) Perplexity and indecision also use these phrases: to be in a quandary — to be in a perplexing situation or in a dilemma The weather was so changeable that I was in a quandary what things to take with me.
Escaping the last drive, Dinny walked home by herself.
Her sense of humour was tickled, but she was in a quandary. (J.
G.) When Hurstwood.
Got back to his office again he was in greater quandary than ever. (Th.
D.) To be in a dilemma or to be caught (put) on the horns of the dilemma is colloquial for to be faced with a difficult choice (and hence to be perplexed).
Also: to put (place) someone in a dilemma. Dawson-Hill was in a dilemma.
He was too shrewd a man, too good a lawyer, not to have seen the crisis coming. (C.
S.) George found himself in a fix last week.
He had promised to go to his friend Arthur’s engagement party on Friday, Then the Managing Director invited him to dinner the same evening, and this put George on the horns of a dilemma, either he must disappoint his old friend or he must risk offending the great man. (M.
M.) With a strong mental effort Sir Lawrence tried to place himself in a like dilemma. (J.
G.) The direct question placed Andrew in a dilemma (A.
C.) To fall between two stools is to fail through hesitating between two courses of action, to lose an opportunity through 43 inability to decide between two alternatives.
So as the proverb puts it: Between two stools you fall to the ground. (A person who cannot decide which of two courses to follow or who tries to follow two courses at the same time may fail to follow either.) So how it’s to go on I don’t know.
Lawrence doesn’t save a penny. We’re falling between two stools, Em; and one fine day we shall reach the floor with a bump (J.
G.) He tried to keep in with the two opponents, but – he fell between two stools. (K.
H.) to be in two (twenty) minds — to be undecided; to hesitate When I saw you last, he said, I was in two minds.
We talked and you expressed your opinion. (J.
G.) She was in two minds whether to speak of the feeling Corven’s face had roused in her. (J.
G.) I’m still in two minds about his proposals. (K..
H.) I was in twenty minds whether to go or stay. The following proverb warns us of danger of hesitation: He who hesitates is lost. (Hesitation causes one to lose one’s chances.) — like this; that’s that.
Somebody’d got to give you a good telling off. (B.
R.) I’d tell her off proper. (K.
M.) 66 to give a person a piece (bit) of one’s mind — to rebuke him; to tell him frankly what one thinks of him, his behaviour, etc. Oh, if I could only pay that woman, I’d give her a piece of my mind that she wouldn’t forget.
I’d tell her off proper. (K.
M.) I’d like to go back there and give them a piece of my mind — they’re asleep most of the time. (S.
One day he would forget himself and give her not a piece, but the whole of his mind. (S.
M.) to give a person a (good) dressing down — to scold or beat him Father gave Mary a dressing down when she told him that she had broken off the engagement. (K.
H.) to be (come) down on a person — to be severe upon him; to scold, blame or punish him You’ll have Zel down on you if you start shooting, Roy said. (J.
Ald.) My mother did not like it, and she came down on us severely. (B.
H.) To be at a person means the same thing. Go on, he growled. Give me all my faults when you’re about it.
Suspicious! Jealous! You’ve been at me before! Oh, and I’m too young, I suppose. (A.
C.) He finds out eventually, and he’ll be at you in the end, ay, and make it a bitter end. (A.
C.) My mother is always at me about my behaviour at meals. (B.
H.) to give a person a good talking to — to scold or rebuke him I’ll give her a good talking to when she comes.
I’m not going to stand any of her nonsense. (B.
Sh.) I must give her a good talking to this afternoon, said Lewisham… (H.
W.) 3* 67 Give it him hot! is colloquial for rebuke him severely.
An official reprimand may be colloquially put in this way: to have (call) a person on the carpet (mat) — to censure; to summon for reprimand.
To be on the carpet (to be censured or summoned for reprimand) is also similarly used. The Headmaster had me on the mat this morning.
He wanted to know who was responsible for the uproar last night in the dormitory. (W.
B.) The unpunctual clerk was repeatedly on the carpet. (W.
M.) to call (haul) a person over the coals — to censure or rebuke him Now tell me, why is that a conscience can’t haul a man over the coals once for an offence and then let him alone. (M.
T.) to teach a person a lesson — to give him a rebuke or punishment which will serve as a warning — He’s got his own hands full, Sam said. (J.
Ald.) Another thing is, he goes on, we’ve got our hands pretty full. (P.
Ch.) Do not expect him to help you; he has his hands full. (W.
M.) We have our hands full preparing the show. (K.
H.) To have a lot of work on one’s hands means the same thing, Shouldn’t I look foolish to forgo a competent adviser now that I’ve got a lot of work on my hands. (B.
R.) To have (a lot) on also means to be very busy, I’ve a lot on this week, but next week I shall probably have more time to spare. (W.
B.) Have you anything on this afternoon? (i.
Have you any engagement? Are you free?) (A.
H.) 111 Other phrases expressing the notion of being busy include the following: to be snowed under with work; not to have a minute to spare; to be (hard) at it. After so much inactivity it’s good to be hard at it again. (W.
B.) If well-behaved they even on occasion served as house-boys.
Cooper kept them hard at it. He liked to see them work. (S.
M.) I wish I could help you with the Garden Party, but I really haven’t a minute to spare. (W.
B.) I’m snowed under with work this week, but next week I’ll probably have more time. (to have) other fish to fry — (to have) other business to do (and therefore be busy) No; I can’t go now.
I’ve got other fish to fry.
If you can see through this mystery, it’s more than I can.
I’m beaten, and I confess it.
In any case I’ve other fish to fry. (A.
Chr.) What did you mean by saying you had other fish to fry, Sir Charles? (A.
Chr.) A common simile describing a busy person is: as busy as a bee. She had no sooner done this, than off she was again; and there she stood once more, as brisk and busy as a bee… (Ch.
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