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Sports Idioms in English


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There are lots and lots of idioms in the English language that make reference to sports of all kinds.  Let's start a list of them! 

Here are a few .....

"Right off the bat"  -- from the start or the beginning. 

"Slam dunk" -- something that is easy to achieve. 

"Call the shots"  -- be in control of something or in control of a situation.

"Jump the gun" -- to start or do something prematurely.

Can you think of any sports idioms that you use and/or particularly like?  If so Please add to the list. :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sometimes it can be difficult to recognize idioms from jargon. But here are some phrases I know that was derived from sports but can be used in any situation.

Down to the wire - To the very end.

Saved by the bell - to be saved or spared from something undesirable in a timely manner.

Settle a score - to get back and get even with a person you previously lost a match to.

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A few more:

Hit below the belt - do something unfair to win. . .

Give it your best shot - try your best to achieve/attain some goal.

At this stage in the game - at a particular time.

Ball is in your court - the responsibility to do something is yours.

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On the ball - you aware of what's going on and can fix it.

Off on the wrong foot - you meet someone and didn't quite hit it off right away.

Opps, I used a sports idiom in my previous explanation - hit it off - didn't get along well with someone you just met.

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  • 1 month later...

I don't know if this would be considered as an idiom, but calling someone a "knockout" means they are beautiful, and I assume this means beautiful enough to knock somebody out. Also, to "knock it out of the park" means a home run in baseball, but when used in everyday conversations, it means that you did things perfectly - similar to hitting the nail on the head but used more for tasks instead of ideas.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I don't know if this would be considered as an idiom, but calling someone a "knockout" means they are beautiful, and I assume this means beautiful enough to knock somebody out. Also, to "knock it out of the park" means a home run in baseball, but when used in everyday conversations, it means that you did things perfectly - similar to hitting the nail on the head but used more for tasks instead of ideas.

This is a metaphor then. However, drawing the line between metaphors and idioms is not always easy. However, in general, you can put it like this:

'Metaphor is "a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable," while idiom is "a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words." (New Oxford English Dictionary)'

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Again:

In the same league - to be as good as someone at something/be at the same level.

Drop the ball - make a mistake

Game plan - a tactic/strategy/etc,.

Level playing field - when a situation does not favor anyone.

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Learned new ones (for me) today:

Hit (someone) below the belt

- to not follow the rules, to do something that is not fair (hitting low in boxing is not fair)

Back the wrong horse

- to make the wrong choice, to support the wrong thing (from horse racing)

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  • 2 months later...

Here's some additional sports-related idioms I got from the internet (sadly I can't think of any :shy:) :

  • Throw in the towel - To surrender or admit defeat.
  • Win by a nose - To win in a very close fight or to win by a narrow margin.
  • Keep one's eye on the ball - To remain focus or alert.

:smile:

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Really good thread, great expressions here! I was just looking how to say when the goalkeeper makes a poor defense, it's conceding a howler right?

I believe the expression is more of a football jargon than an idiom (I maybe wrong though  :grin:). 

Anyway, I've found this list of football jargons where a "HOWLER" is defined as >> A really bad piece of play, for example a FUMBLE by the GOALKEEPER or missing a SITTER. 

I also found the expression "Concede a goal" which means >> A goal being scored against your team (the opposite of score a goal). But I can't find the expression "Conceding a howler"?  Though I've read about that same expression in a sports article and seems to be jiving with what you've mentioned.  :smile:

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I've just remembered another one which is "nothing but net". It's supposed to convey that the person hit the mark more accurately than necessary such as how a basketball player sometimes shoots so well that he or she doesn't even hit the rim and the ball only ever touches the net.

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  • 1 year later...

To pull your punches means to hold back or refrain from doing something

Hitting the bullseye is aiming at a perfect center with darts, but it also means winning at any game.

Scoring on one's own goal traces its origins to the own goal shot by the late Andres Escobar, and outside of the sports world it means poetic justice.

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  • 4 years later...

I love soccer, I like to play and watch it my favorite soccer team is Monterrey, I like to watch the games on Saturdays with my dad I like to eat hamburgers after watching the game, I really like going to the BBVA stadium my favorite memory is the  December 29, 2019.

I love tv series Arrow and Lucifer I really like are my favorites, arrow because he is my favorite guard, I like why I like archery and I want to practice that one day and tv series Lucifer I like because the character is very funny and I like the  relationship he has with the detective.  They are my favorite series. 

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  • 1 year later...

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