Just English Magazine Articles

The Crocodile in the Wallet Factory


“Like a crocodile in a wallet factory” is a Puerto Rican idiom meaning “very nervous.” Which crocodile wouldn’t be if the factory made wallets out of crocodile skin? But how aptly it describes a feeling – so short and appealing. That’s the power of idioms.

You haven’t mastered a language unless you can use idiomatic expressions in your speech and writing. However, it is more important to understand idioms when they are used in discussions. In English, some are easy because they are self-explanatory and you can guess the meaning e.g. teaching him is like beating your head against a brick wall.

Even though there are more than 25,000 idioms in English, don’t lose heart. Learn the common ones. Test yourself with this dialogue.

Speaker 1: Just to play the devil’s advocate: what if they refuse to cooperate? What we are asking for is a far cry from normal student demands. I heard through the grapevine that our new principal was an ex-prison warden. I know I should take what I hear with a grain of salt but we have to be down to earth here. Not everyone is sympathetic to our cause.

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apt – right for a situation, suitable
advocate – a person who supports something or someone
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