Winning English - Mastering Idioms, Slang, and Cultural References

Going on hiatus • Winding down • Dead end • Odds and ends • Paraprosdokians • Twist ending • Oleaginous • Mysophobia • Worcestershire sauce • Loose ends

Hello, everyone! Thank you for being part of Winning English through the eighty posts and episodes that I’ve produced. However, I wanted to let you know that I’m putting this newsletter and video on hiatus for the foreseeable future.

“On hiatus” means to be paused or suspended for a period of time. You can use both the verbs “to go” and “to put” with this phrase. So you can “go on hiatus”, or you can “put something on hiatus” - in this case, a newsletter.

This isn’t goodbye. Perhaps I will return to Winning English in the future. But for today, let me share a few phrases having to do with ending things. Plus, at the end of this post, I have some special bonus material for you.

Have you enjoyed the video version of Winning English. Check out the podcast version at my site on Podbean or in your favorite listening app.

As I’ve already mentioned, I’ll be winding down Winning English for now.

“To wind down” means to slowly bring something to a finish. Picture a top, which is a children’s toy that spins.

You “wind up” a top to get it started, then it slowly “winds down” before it stops altogether.

This is different from when something reaches a dead end. When you reach a “dead end”, you suddenly stop and discover you can go no further. For example, at the end of a dead end street, you cannot drive further down the road.


Odds and ends

As you know, I’ve always shared additional material in the newsletter that doesn’t necessarily have to do with idioms and sayings. I have a few odds and ends this time.

“Odds and ends” are what we call a random variety of things. In a group of “odds and ends”, no one thing is very significant or important, but all of them are useful or interesting enough to mention - or to keep, in the case of physical things. Often people have a special drawer in their homes where they keep odds and ends.

Paraprosdokians

Okay, first, I want to tell you about paraprosdokians. I’ll be honest - I had never heard of this idea until a relative of mine shared it with me!

A paraprosdokian is a kind of sentence. In these sentences, the logic and flow of the words and ideas seem to be following a common pattern, but then these sentences finish in an unexpected way. Put another way, these sentences have a twist ending.

A “twist ending” is when something unexpected happens at the end of something, whether it’s a movie, a book, a sentence and so on.

Here are three examples of paraprosdokians:

  • Money can't buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.

  • The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has limits.

  • I used to be indecisive, but now I'm not so sure.

Interested in reading more? Check out these three articles. You can find plenty of other examples online, too.

There are always new words to learn

Even though I’ve been speaking English my entire life (well, not so much in that first year or two), there are always new words to learn. And honestly, it’s fun and a pleasant surprise to find new words! It feels a bit like exploring. Here are two I’ve encountered relatively recently:

  • Oleaginous - Oleaginous is an adjective that means oily or greasy. It has both a literal and figurative meaning. Literally, it means that something - for example, a fish - contains a lot of oil. However, figuratively, it means something that is distasteful or offensive because it’s meant to falsely convince you of something. Here’s an example: “The man used oleaginous words to try to charm his way into the private meeting.” We often use the word “oily” and words like it to describe falsely charming people or speech.

  • Mysophobia - Mysophobia is an abnormal fear of germs, dirt, and contamination. A more common, everyday version of this word is “germophobia”.

Worcester sauce  

To wrap up this group of odds and ends, I have one more example - Worcestershire sauce. This sauce is often used as a condiment on foods. But it is also commonly mispronounced! The pronunciation doesn’t follow from the spelling, and many American English speakers get it wrong. In fact, getting it wrong is so common that I found a meme about it!

Need help pronouncing it? Here’s a good video to help.

Loose ends

I also feel like I need to tie up one loose end before I finish.

A “loose end” is what we call a small, unfinished task or piece of business. The main job is done, but there are small things to complete before the entire project can be declared finished.

Picture a piece of rope with frayed ends.

The main rope is there, but there are loose ends that need to be tied together.

In the last Winning English, I included a set of sentences that feature words that are spelled the same, but have very different pronunciations. If you need any help with those, please feel free to contact me!


Many thanks - to you and to Substack

Again, thank you for being part of Winning English! Take care of yourself.

Also, a hearty thank you to Substack. This is a great service, and I very much appreciate their shout-out to Winning English a few weeks back. I plan to start a different publication on this same platform soon. It’s just that good.

Take care, and talk soon!

Bill

Your writer & host