karen meme

10 English idioms with Names

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Does your language have many idioms with names in them? Mine, which is Russian, has some.

Well, guess what, English has them too and their meaning is not always self-explanatory.

Have a look at these 10 idioms and take a quiz to see if you get them right.

1. Jack of all trades, master of none

A figure of speech used in reference to a person who has dabbled in many skills, rather than gaining expertise by focusing on one. The shortened version “a jack of all trades” is often a compliment for a person who is good at fixing things, and has very good broad knowledge.

See more sentences with jack-of-all-trades in the context.

2. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

People say this to warn someone that they will not be an interesting person by working all the time. If you talk about females it changes to “all work and no play makes Jill a dull girl”.

See more sentences with all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy in the context.

3. Jack the Lad

A very confident young man who doesn’t take life seriously and doesn’t care much about other people.

Her first boyfriend was a bit of a Jack the Lad.

See more sentences with Jack the lad in the context.

4. Johnny-on-the-spot

Someone who is ready to do something, especially help someone, immediately.

We found our business threatened by this Johnny-come-lately.

There he was, Johnny-on-the-spot, ready with his tool box.

See more sentences with Johnny-on-the-spot in the context.

5. Tom, Dick and/or Harry

The sentence is used in a rather negative way to mean ‘anyone’.

You need to send invitations. We don’t want any old Tom, Dick and Harry turning up.

See one more sentence with Tom, Dick and Harry in the context.

6. Plain Jane

A girl or woman who is ordinary looking and not beautiful. Also used an adjective to describe something simple, bacis or not popular.

I felt such a Plain Jane when I was a teenager.
If she’d been a plain Jane, she wouldn’t have had all the attention.

See more sentences with plain Jane in the context.

7. Contrary Mary

A girl or woman who often disagrees with other people or does the opposite of what other people want them to do.

She insists on wearing a coat in this hot weather – she’s such a Contrary Mary.

8. Moaning Minnie

Someone who complains a lot (not always a female).

Just eat your meal and stop being such a Moaning Minnie!

See one more example with Moaning Minnie in the context.

9. Heath Robinson (UK) and Rube Goldberg (US) 

The names of cartoonists famous for their eccentric and complex drawings as adjectives to describe crazy and over-complicated machines.

The original method for attaching the motor was pretty Heath Robinson.

It’s a crazy, Rube Goldberg kind of device, but it works.

See more examples of Heath Robinson and Rube Goldberg in the context.

10. Karen

Someone seeming to be entitled or demanding beyond the scope of what is normal.
The meme evolved to depict[by whom?] white women who use their privilege to demand their own way. Depictions also include demanding to “speak to the manager”, being racist, being anti-vaccination, or sporting a particular bob cut hairstyle.

Do you see her over there? She’s such a Karen.

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Additional resources: 

I don’t know him from Adam: phrases containing names

Jack of all trades

What does it mean to be Karen 

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