10 English Idioms from Technology


Hi. Welcome to www.engvid.com.
I’m Adam. In today’s video we’re going to look at idioms,
but idioms from the world of technology, so very specific idioms. I’m going to give
you ten of them. I got five here and we’ll have
five more coming in a moment. Now, before I begin,
what is an idiom? An idiom is an expression or a collection of words
that the words themselves don’t necessarily mean what the expression
combined means. Right? So you have the words and you know all the
words, but when they’re put together in this expression the meaning could
be completely different. So all of these come from technology because
they started about an actual technological tool, or piece of equipment, or innovation
and we took this expression and we applied it to other things. So we’re going to start
with: “grease the wheels”. Now, if you think about machines, they have
these kinds of wheels, they’re called gears or sometimes they’re
called cogs, the cogs… A cog in the machine. And a machine might have many of these wheels,
and the wheels sort of work together. Now, the machines are most… Sorry, the wheels are
mostly made from metal. And if you know from experience probably, if
metal touches metal too much it heats up. Now, if it gets too hot then the two
wheels will seize on top of each other. They will seize, it means they will
catch each other and stop working. So, to prevent that seizure
we put grease on the wheels. Grease is like a thick oil.
Right? You put it all around, you make
everything sort of lubricated… Okay? Oops. Lubricate means you make it so it doesn’t
heat up and doesn’t create friction. Lots of new words for you, here. Friction is that heat that comes from
the touching each other too much. So grease the wheels so they don’t touch, but
how do we use this idiom in everyday life? Well, if you think about bureaucracy, like
government, you need to get a permit to change something in your
building, for example. Now, in some countries to get
this permit will take you months. You have to go to this office and sign the
paperwork, take this paperwork to that office, get it stamped, take it to that office, back
and forth – you can be spending months and doing lots of work just
to get a simple permit. So, what you might do, you’ll go to your politician
friend and, you know, ask him to, if he can grease the wheels a little
bit, make the process easier. You’ll give him a little bit of cash, he’ll
give you all the stamps you need, you’ll get your permit in a week, you build
your building, everybody’s happy. “Grease the wheels”. So most commonly it’s used to basically mean
like a bribe, but it doesn’t have to be a bribe. It could just ask somebody to make things a
little bit easier, make a process a little bit smoother. Okay? “Bells and whistles”,
ding, ding, ding. [Whistles] Right? So bells and whistles. If you’re talking about bells and whistles
on something, you’re talking about all the features, especially you’re talking
about the cool, the good features. Right? So if you buy a car, you go to the dealership
and you say to the guy: “I want this car with all the bells and whistles”, it means I want
every feature that’s available; I want the stereo, I want the air conditioning, I want
the automatic, I want the GPS, the mirror, the rear-view camera. I want everything that is
available put into this car. I want all the bells
and whistles. Okay? So basically all
of the good stuff. If you go to an appliance store, you want the
machine that has the most bells and whistles, the most cool features
that you can put on it. Again, this is from old time, industrial machines
worked on steam, so the steam created the whistle and then the bells for
when a protest was done, etc. “Hit the panic button”, so in a factory that has
a lot of machinery, if somebody gets caught in the machine, like let’s say your shirt
gets caught in the belt and you start getting dragged, all over the factory there’s a button
that you can press it and all the machines stop. That’s called the panic button. Okay? So, when there’s a dangerous situation or
emergency, you just hit the panic button, everything shuts down, you go save
your friend from the machine. We use this in
everyday conversation. Basically we say: “Don’t hit the panic button
just yet”, maybe, or: “He hit the panic button.” It basically means to panic, to be really
nervous, really scared, really worried about something. So if somebody says: “Don’t hit the panic
button just yet”, it means don’t lose control. Relax, think about things
carefully, make sure that you… Everything that can be done is done before
we have to think about the thing failing. Right? So, if you’re planning a project
and let’s say you’re… You need that permit like we spoke about before,
and the government, the government office says: “No, you can’t
have this permit.” Your investors are: -“Oh my god. What are we going to do? We spent so much money.” -“Well, don’t hit the
panic button just yet. I know a politician. I can grease the
wheels a little bit. It’ll be okay”, and then everything
works together like that. “To make something tick”
or “someone tick”. Usually we use it with a person,
you want to know: “Hmm. That guy’s… That guy’s interesting, I
wonder what makes him tick.” Basically what makes
him be the way he is. Like tick, like tick, tick, tick, tick, if you
think about machines; that’s how machines work, they tick. So basically what makes him work the way
he does, what makes him be the way he is. You want to know what
drives the person. So for everybody it’s different. Okay? Some people, they just want to
be the best that they can be. Some people, they have kids, they want their
kids to have all the best things in life, so that’s what makes them tick, that’s what
drives them to work hard every day, make lots of money so they can
support their kids. Some people it’s just ideology, some people
it’s religion, some people it’s love, some people it’s hate – all these different
things that make people tick. Okay? “To pull the plug”, now, technically there are
two meanings to this; one is not so pleasant and the other one is
just kind of neutral. If you have a family member who is very sick
or who had an accident, or whatever, and he or she is in the
hospital and they… This person is being
kept alive by a machine. For example, their lungs don’t work, so there’s
a machine that basically gives them air and takes out their
carbon dioxide, etc. Without this machine
this person would die. So you can pull… The family might decide to pull the plug,
it means disconnect the machine and let the person die naturally. Okay? But in an everyday situation, to pull
the plug basically means to cancel. Okay? So, the… I… There’s a project going on next door and they’re
building a building, and they’re too loud, so I call the police and tell them:
“Listen, these people are disturbing me. Can you come over here
and do something?” The police come, they realize these people
do not have a permit to build, so they pull the plug on the project;
they cancel it. Or investors, they
find out, they come… They want to invest in your company and then
they find out that you’re not really as good as you pretend you are, that your numbers are
all lies, that your research is all bogus, etc., so they pull the plug on the investment;
they back out, they cancel the investment. Okay? So all of this from technology. Let’s look at a few more. Okay, so now I have five
more idioms to talk about. I start with to “blow a fuse”. Now, a fuse is like a
little piece of… It looks like glass,
it’s sometimes plastic. It’s a little electronic connector
that you have in your circuit box. So you have like a little circuit box, and
they can be round ones, they can be little, long ones, usually like metal
at the end, metal at the end. This one has metal
in the middle. It connects your electricity. So, sometimes all your power goes out in your
house, or your apartment, or whatever and you don’t understand why. So you go, you open a circuit box and you
see that the fuse is blown, it means it’s old, the connector broke. So you just take it out, put a new
fuse and everything works again. Now, when we talk about people, if
somebody blows a fuse that means… This means that he or she lost his temper,
to lose one’s temper, if you can see that. I’ll just put it here. To lose one’s temper is to get super-angry
super-fast with no sense of control. Right? So some people, like, you just say one wrong
word and they blow up, like, they don’t… They have no control and they get so angry,
and you’re not really sure what happened. The guy just blew his fuse. I don’t know what happened. He blew his fuse. It was very sudden, very
angry, out of control. Okay? “To reinvent the wheel”. So sometimes people say:
“Oh, you know what? This car could be much better. I’m going to design
a brand new car.” And you try and you try, and you try to make it
better and then somebody says to him: “Well, why are you trying to
reinvent the wheel? Just improve this one. Don’t create something
brand new.” So to reinvent the wheel is to try to do
something new that’s already being done. But usually it also means
to be overcomplicated. So if you say to somebody: “Look, we’re
not trying to reinvent the wheel. We’re just trying to make it
better, something better.” So basically be more simple,
don’t overcomplicate it. We’re not creating
something brand new. We’re just taking something that already exists,
and just making it a little bit better. So don’t try to
reinvent the wheel. Okay? Don’t try to be too
complicated about something. Okay. If you “run out of steam”, so in the old
days a lot of machinery was run by steam. Steam is when you take water and you heat
it, and it becomes gas, and that gas used to turn turbines and then the
turbines worked the machine. So if you run out of steam, if there’s no
more steam then the machine, the turbines stop, the machine stops moving. So we talk about a person or a group, etc.
or a movement, anything, if it runs out of steam basically it loses its energy, it loses
its passion, it loses its drive, and it slowly stops until it completely dies
out and nobody does it anymore. So if you have a
political movement… Okay? So everybody’s angry at the new president, for
example, and there’s marches, and there’s protests, and there’s people writing articles,
and there’s people on TV screaming and shouting, but over time this anger just runs out of
the steam, or the movement, or the protest just run out of steam, and fewer people show up
to the marches, and fewer people are writing on their social networks and fewer people
are screaming and shouting until eventually nobody cares and the president
does whatever he wants to do. Okay? Because the movement
ran out of steam. Now, if you know how to “push somebody’s buttons”,
so button, button, button, and then you make the machines work. Right? If you know how to push a person’s button,
you know how to make this person angry, you know how to make this
person frustrated. So usually if you think about it, especially
family members, if you think about like mothers and daughters, mothers and daughters from
my experience know exactly which buttons to push to get which reactions, and they always
push each other’s buttons and they make each other crazy. So, but that’s the nature
of family, too, right? And “to be on the same wavelength”,
so if two people are on the same… This is the wavelength, right? And then you have two
different wavelengths. If you and I are on the same wavelength
then we’re thinking the same. We basically have the same ideas, we
have the same goals we want to reach. In a meeting there’s a whole bunch of people
and I say: “You know, I think we should do A.” And the other person
says: “Yeah, I agree.” So she and I are on
the same wavelength. We’re thinking the same way, we see the same
end result, and we see the same process to get there. So we’re going to work together because we’re
thinking alike, we’re on the same wavelength. Okay? So there you go, 10
idioms from technology. These are actually used in
everyday conversations, they’re… Some of them can be
used in writing. For example: “blow a fuse”, don’t put that
in your IELTS or TOEFL essay, it’s a little bit too casual. But “to be on the same wavelength”, you can use
it; “reinvent the wheel”, you can use it, etc. Make sure you know which are
formal, which are casual, etc. If you have any questions about this or about any
of these idioms, people go to www.engvid.com and join the forum. You can ask your
questions there. There’s also a quiz you can take to
test your knowledge of these idioms. And of course, if you like the video, press
like, subscribe to my channel on YouTube, and I’ll see you again soon
with some new videos. Bye-bye.

Danny Hutson

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