Foot Idioms

What is it about idioms that I find so enticing?  These expressions seem to be saying something, but unless you dig for the deeper meanings, you don’t really understand them.  Idioms attract me, because of the way the words are put together and I derive a deep pleasure when I get the meaning.  It is more than that, as I want to know who first said this and why it became popular.  I think that they are actually the most fun part of the English language.  There are probably a lot more Foot Idioms, but I found 10 that I will write about today.  Idioms always come in different variations because they may have minor changes in the way the words are structured.  Although variations exist, the meaning is the same, it is just a matter of who did what.

The saying, ‘Put my foot in my mouth’, is often used when a person said or did something tactless or embarrassing, such as committing a blunder or some indiscretion, they misspoke or did something that they should not have done.  For instance if a guy has a new girlfriend and he is invited over her house and then later he asks her, ‘who was that skanky lady that I saw you with’, and she replies, ‘Oh that was my mom’, then you know that you have put your foot in your mouth.  The variation on this idiom would be, ‘Put my foot in it this time’, which basically means the same thing and this may be said differently like, ‘Stepped in it this time’, or even ‘Got stuck in it’.  Another variation would be, ‘Shoot myself in the foot’, which is often used when you said too much or said the wrong thing.

The saying, ‘Put the shoe on the wrong foot’, is used when you made an obvious mistake.  Most shoes are made in pairs, where one is designed for your right foot and the other is designed for your left foot, so making this mistake would be uncomfortable and immediately noticeable by others.

The saying, ‘Put my best foot forward’, is used when you try to make a good impression, you are doing your best, being on your best behavior, or putting your best effort into your work.  You would be showing yourself in the best or most positive way, or acting or appearing to be at your best.  When you go on a job interview, you always want to put your best foot forward.

The saying, ‘I will foot the bill’, means that you will pay for something or cover the expenses.  The father of the bride is usually expected to foot the bill at his daughter’s wedding.

The saying, ‘I have one foot in the grave’, is used to describe someone that is over the hill, but even to a more extreme measure, as this person would be very old, probably suffering from an illness and very near death.  This person would be excessively old, their appearance would be frail, they would be sick and death would be imminent.  Although this might also be said by someone who just likes to complain and is looking for sympathy.

The saying, ‘I had to put my foot down’, is said when you cannot tolerate a certain situation and you need to act firmly, to strongly tell someone that they must do something or that they must stop doing something.  By putting your foot down, you are signaling them to stop their bad behavior.  When I caught my son smoking pot in his room with his friends, I decided that it was time to put my foot down.

The saying, ‘Got one foot in the door’, is a phrase used by sales people.  A long time ago, well not really that long ago as I remember this, there were a lot of door to door sales people who are also known as solicitors and they went around canvassing neighborhoods trying to push their products.  Many people answered their door and when they saw it was another pesky salesman, they would slam the door on them.  Some of these sales people would stick their foot in the doorway to prevent the door from being slammed on them, I guess they might have been wearing some kind of safety shoe, because I am sure this would hurt.  The hardest part of the sale was getting inside to house, so they could give their pitch, thus when they got one foot in the door, for a good sales person, the rest was easy.

The saying, ‘Got off on the wrong foot’, is said when something starts out badly and you need a do-over to fix it.  In the military, in order for the soldiers to march in unison with each other, they all have to start their steps with the same foot.  If a soldier starts off on the ‘wrong’ foot, then he will be out of step with everyone else.

The saying, ‘Waited on them hand and foot’, is usually said when you have put in a concerted, never-ending effort into a specific task.  Hands and feet are viewed as being opposite ends of the body, so waiting on someone hand and foot would mean that you had to give them a total service, attending to all of their needs.  If you have waited on someone hand and foot, then you have done everything for them.  Her mother always waited on her hand and foot.

The saying, ‘Have a heavy foot’, is related to someone that is driving too fast, they are putting the pedal to the metal, pushing the gas pedal down to the floor to achieve great speed.  I don’t want to be a passenger in your car, because you have such a heavy foot.

The saying, ‘Now that the shoe is on the other foot’, is a phrase used to describe a situation where certain circumstances have become reversed.  This is when a person finds themselves to be in a similar situation that another person was in before.  The situation has become the ​opposite of what it was, ​because of some mitigating circumstance.

That is all I have for you today and I am not going into, ‘Light on your feet’, or ‘Put yourself in someone else’s shoes’, because although they seem similar, they don’t actually belong, as they don’t include the word foot.

11 thoughts on “Foot Idioms

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