Looking to “Get Lucky” this Saint Patrick’s Day? These Idioms May Help
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, shamrock-shaped candy, and other Irish-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 (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 thirty and had not starred in any movies, I realized that that ship had sailed.
- Meaning: a difficult situation or period.
- Example: Jim is going through a rough patch right now because he lost his job and his girlfriend dumped him.