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10 Idioms about knowledge [infographic]

  • March 18, 2013
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Modern culture cherishes wisdom, and English has plenty of idioms to reflect this. The infographic displays many common knowledge idioms, and the article lists examples of idioms in use.

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1: Knowledge is power
The more someone knows, the more equipped that person is.
“Many people enroll in college under the assumption that knowledge is power.”
“Knowing that knowledge is power, both generals studied each other.”

2: Know the ropes, learn the ropes
This term has a maritime history; sailors adept at their trade knew the various ways to tie knots. Someone who “knows the ropes” is well-acquainted with some topic.
“Gertie really knows the ropes when it comes to decorating.”
“I can’t work in that industry until I learn the ropes.”

3: Can’t make heads or tails of it
Failing to understand or confused about something.
“Can you read this? I can’t make heads or tails of it.”
“I can’t make heads or tails of Algebra.”

4: Burning the midnight oil, pull an all-nighter
Used by students to indicate late night/all night studies.
“There’s a test tomorrow, so I’m burning the midnight oil.”
“She can’t come with, she’s pulling an all-nighter.”

5: Know something backwards and forwards (or inside out), know the ins and outs
To be an expert or intimately familiar with something.
“Murray knows horse racing inside out.”
“I need to take Bob with; he knows the ins and outs of attending conventions.”

6: Doing your homework
While it can be literal, this idiom can also mean studying and researching any topic.
“Peggy’s new chickens seem happy; she really did her homework on how to care for them.”
“Phil did his homework before he chose a college. It took him a year to pick one.”

7: Under one’s belt
Used to refer to an experience, accomplishment, or body of wisdom one has acquired.
“I have 40 years of cheeseburgers under my belt, but I never tasted one that good.”
“With a lifetime of horse breeding under his belt, he knew the colt could be a champion.”

8: Two heads are better than one, put our heads together
The idea that more than one mind working on a problem will solve it faster.
“Come help me with this puzzle; two heads are better than one.”
“An emergency meeting has been called so we can put our heads together on this issue.”

9: Pick his brain
To obtain ideas or information from someone.
“I need to pick Bill’s brain about our camping trip.”
“Frank really picked my brain–I guess he’s having problems getting his hens to lay.”

10: Great minds think alike
In the theory that very intelligent people tend to have the same ideas at the same time, this playful idiom congratulates the other person for being as smart as the speaker.
“You are heading to Plainfield, too? Great minds think alike!”
“Phyllis and Emma both decided to plant gardens–great minds think alike.”

Figures of speech come and go. Can you think of a similar idiom that is either new or slowly fading away?

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