25 Phrases That Are Quite Scary When Taken Literally

There are many idioms that we take for granted. But if you stop and think about them…they can be quite scary. Take “eat your heart out” for example. Seriously? Eat your heart out? What kind of image is that supposed to give somebody? These are 25 Phrases That Are Quite Scary When Taken Literally.


Keep your eyes peeled.


Although it means to keep a lookout, the visual metaphor is somewhat terrifying. How would you peal an eye anyway? Like an orange?


Eat your heart out


No, it doesn’t mean to cannibalize yourself, although this phrase may be enough to scare any new English learner away! It basically means, “Be jealous, I’m better than you.” As in, yes, I got to go to Disney and you didn’t…eat your heart out!


Lend me an ear.


No, not literally. That’s gross and massively disturbing. It just means to listen up!


Can I pick your brain?


With a toothpick? No, thank you. But you can go ahead and ask me lots of questions, which is what you actually mean.


Break a leg!


Once again, physically maiming yourself isn’t the point. This phrase basically means “good luck.” Usually you hear this phrase being used in the theatre; it’s bad luck to tell a stage actor, “good luck.”

Photos: Feature: shutterstock, 25. Gordon via flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, 24. pixabay (public domain), 23. Biswarup GangulyLeft Hand – Kolkata 2011-04-20 2350, image of ear added by Sameen, CC BY 3.0, 22. Allan Ajifo, Synapse in brainCC BY 2.0, 21. Pagemaker787Purple Fibreglass Leg CastCC BY-SA 4.0, 20-16. pixabay.com (public domain), 15. Andrea Arden via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 14. wikimedia commons (public domain), 13. SimonKSKR.I.PCC BY-SA 3.0, 12. Kevin PluckLion waiting in NamibiaCC BY 2.0, 11. shutterstock, 10. zolakoma via flickr, 9. www.freestockphotos.biz (public domain), 8. pixabay (public domain), 7. Bryon Villegas via flickrCC BY 2.0, 6. Travis Isaacs via flickr, ear duplicated CC BY 2.0, 5. Tony WebsterBullets Hydra-Shok 9mm JHP 2871988380 oCC BY-SA 3.0, 4. pexels (public domain), 3. OxymanLondon Bus route 360CC BY-SA 3.0, 2. pixabay (public domain), 1. Laitr KeiowsIris – right eye of a girlCC BY-SA 3.0

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