#IOTW: 5 idioms from ancient times

Hi, fellas! Are you doing great today?

It’s not a secret that English language is influenced by Latin and Ancient Greek. Do you know that many of current English idioms have been around since ancient times? So, today I’m going to reveal 5 famous idioms from those ancient times. Let’s start, shall we?

“Achilles heel”

It means a weakness of something despite an overall strength. Achilles was the Greek champion in Greek mythology who was killed when he was injured on the heel. This was the only part of his body where he could be harmed.


  • “He might be very brilliant and smart, but vanity is his Achilles heel.”

“It’s all Greek to me”

This means something that you say when you don’t understand something that is written or said. The term ‘Greek’ refers to the Greek language and its inability to be read by monks during the Middle Ages.


  • “I’ve tried reading your thesis but it’s all Greek to me.”

“Rome wasn’t built in a day”

It means something that you say which means you shouldn’t expect great things to be done quickly. Rome is the capital of one of the greatest empires ever known took some time to build (About 1,200 years).


  • I feel like we’ve spent all our lives to do this homework.

  • Well, Rome wasn’t built in a day!

“When in Rome, do as the Romans do”

It means a person should behave like those around you. This phrase was originated by St. Augustine in his Letters. St Ambrose, a theologian of the 4th century AD, gave an advice to St Augustine about traveling Christians. He wrote: “When I go to Rome, I fast on Saturday, but in Milan I do not. Do you also follow the custom of whatever church you attend, if you do not want to give or receive scandal.”


  • “I don’t drink wine when I’m at home but on holiday. Well, when in Rome, do as the Romans do.

“Open Pandora’s box”

It means something you definitely don’t want to do. This phrase refers to the ancient Greek myth in “Hesiod’s Works and Days.” Long story short, Zeus asked his daughter, Pandora, to go down to earth and marry Epithemeus. He was a brother of Prometheus whom Zeus was mad at for giving people fire without his permission. Before Pandora went to earth, Zeus gave her a little box with a big heavy lock on it and warned her to never open it. Pandora was a curious kind of girl, so one day she opened the box and released all the evils, diseases, and troubles.


  • “You should be very careful with people who are upset. You don’t want to open Pandora’s box.”


Compiled and written by @Patipatigulipat at @EnglishTips4U on Wednesday, August 28, 2013.




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