It’s Saint Patrick’s Day! Walk into any department or grocery store at this time of year, and you may find yourself surrounded by leprechaun hats, green shirts, rainbow banners, four-leaf clover-shaped candy, and other Irish folklore-themed paraphernalia. Embedded in these symbols of Irish tradition is the idea of luck (good, bad, and uncertain) and the language associated with luck.
With that, here are some luck-related idioms commonly used in the English language:
To hit the jackpot
- Meaning: to achieve sudden or sensational success.
- Example: The hungry wolf thought he had hit the jackpot when he discovered a herd of sleeping sheep.
- Meaning: a source of something desirable (e.g., wealth, information).
- Example: Facebook and Twitter provide a goldmine of personal status updates.
- Meaning: a consoling aspect of a difficult situation.
- Example: The silver lining to losing my phone is that I no longer have to answer when my boss calls.
- Meaning: a redeeming feature that compensates for other negative qualities.
- Example: Senior discounts are the saving grace of old age.
To luck out
- Meaning: to be fortunate.
- Example: I lucked out in my art history class by having a photographic memory and consistent study habits.
To thank one’s lucky stars
- Meaning: to feel grateful for avoiding a bad situation.
- Example: I thank my lucky stars that I bought an umbrella right before the thunderstorm.
To look a gift horse in the mouth
- Meaning: to be ungrateful for a favor.
- Example: When I complained about the size of my weekly allowance, my dad told me that I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
To count your chickens before they hatch
- Meaning: to rely on a desirable result before it happens.
- Example: You may have a large salary soon, but don’t count your chickens before they hatch.
Knock on wood
- Meaning: a phrase that expresses the hope that something (1) something desirable will happen or continue to happen, or (2) something undesirable will not happen.
(1) I have done well on my math tests this year. Knock on wood!
(2) Nobody in my family has had the flu this year. Knock on wood!
- Meaning: little or no possibility of success.
- Example: John hates exercise—a fat chance he has of winning the swim competition!
That ship has sailed
- Meaning: the opportunity has passed.
- Example: I wanted to be a famous child actor, but when I turned 30 and had not starred in any movies, I realized that that ship had sailed.
- Meaning: a difficult situation or period.
- Example: With the loss of their home and death of their newborn daughter, the Johnson family experienced a rough patch this year.