English coloquial phrases

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RUIN AND WASTE

60

Ruin and decay may be colloquially described thus: to go to the dogs — to be ruined; to deteriorate completely
Only England could have produced him, and he always said that the country was going to the dogs. (0. W.)
He began to think that London was no place for a white man. It had just gone to the dogs, that was the long and short of it.... (S. M.) Can't make out howyou stand London Society. The thing has gone to the dogs, a lot of damned nobodies talking about nothing. (0. W.) If the country doesn't go to the dogs or the Radi¬cals, we shall have you Prime Minister, some day. (O. W.)
(to be) on its last legs — (to be) a hopeless state of decay; almost exhausted; about to die
Darling, you must order yourself a new dinner-jacket; yours is on its last legs —shoulders rather! (B. R.)
People had grown tired of saying that the "Dis¬union" was on its last legs. (J. G.) Slash! The whip fell among the dogs savagely es¬pecially on the one which had fallen. "Don't, Mason, " Malemute kid begged, "the poor devil's on its last legs." (J. L.)

SCOLDING, BLAME AND COMPLAINTS

Some colloquial phrases connected with the idea of scolding are: aflea in one's ear is colloquial for a sharp reprimand.
...and if I see you next or nigh my house I'll put you in the ditch with a flea in your ear: mind that now. (B. Sh.)
Irene was in front; that young fellow what had they nicknamed him — "The Buccaneer!" — looked precious hangdog there behind her; had got a flea in his ear, he shouldn't wonder. (J. G.)
to tick a person off (to give a person agood ticking off) —
to reprimand, scold or blame him
She's no beggar on horseback; as Ronny said I couldn't help admiring the way she ticked off those journalist fellows. (B. R.) She gave Augustus a good ticking off for talking too much about his pictures (V. L.)
to tell a person off (to give a person a good telling off) — to rebuke, scold or reprimand him
Listen, unless you can learn toflatter your guests,
I'm not coming back again, I can be told off at
home. (M. W.)
Last time he had spoken to this astounding girl
it had been to tell her off for insulting his people
who trusted and liked her. (B. R.)
And now — well, you can't be allowed to go on
like this; that's that. Somebody'd got to give you
a good telling off. (B. R.)
I'd tell her off proper. (K. M.)
66

to give aperson a piece (bit) of one's mind — to rebuke him;
to tell him frankly what one thinks of him, his behaviour,
etc.
Oh, if I could only pay that woman, I'd give her a piece of my mind that she wouldn't forget. I'd tell her off proper. (K. M.) I'd like to go back there and give them a piece of my mind — they're asleep most of the time. (S. H.) ... one day he would forget himself and give her nota piece, but the whole of his mind. (S. M.)
to give a person a (good) dressing down — to scold or beat
him
Father gave Mary a dressing down when she told him that she had broken off the engagement. (K. H.)
to be (come) down on a person — to be severe upon him; to scold, blame or punish him
"You'll have Zel down on you if you start shooting, " Roy said. (J. Ald.)
My mother did not like it,and she came down on us severely. (B. H.)
To be at a person means the same thing.
"Go on, " he growled. "Give me all my faults when you're about it. Suspicious! Jealous! You've been at me before! Oh, and I'm too young, I suppose." (A. C.)
He finds out eventually, and he'll be at you in the end, ay, and make it a bitter end. (A. C.) My mother is always at me about my behaviour at meals. (B. H.)to give a person a good talking to — to scold or rebuke him
I'll give her a good talking to when she comes. I'm not going to stand any of her nonsense. (B. Sh.)
"I must give her a good talking to this afternoon, " said Lewisham... (H. W.)
3* 67

Give it him hot! is colloquial for rebuke him severely. An official reprimand may be colloquially put in this way: to have (call) a person on the...
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