draw the line

Definition: To set a limit or refuse to proceed any further

Example: Mindy had to draw the line when her husband brought a pot-bellied pig home instead of a puppy. It was her or the pig.


There are a number of theories as to what specific drawn line in history gave birth to this idiom. Here’s a sampling.


When tennis was introduced to the English from France in the 1400s, there were no official dimensions for the court. It was up to the players to draw out the lines that the ball could not cross.

Farm boundaries

In seventeenth century rural England, farmers ploughed a line with their horses to define their holdings.


During prizefights, a line was drawn in the ring that the fighters could not cross or they would be disqualified.


A line was drawn in the chamber between the opposing parties. Politics were obviously much more exciting in the past. Fights were common, and the line was an attempt to reduce this. Fists were obviously in use, but more worryingly, so were swords.


jump off the pageDefinition: Something that grabs your attention, especially an image or written description in a book

Example: The novel’s main character, Harry the two-headed chimp, really jumped off the page.


Iddy couldn’t find anything to enrich the explanation of ‘jump off the page‘, not even how long it has been in use. The meaning is quite evident, that something striking on a printed page will engage your imagination and come alive.

In his illustration, Iddy’s just realised he didn’t check how high up that page was before he jumped from it. I suppose that introduces him to the ancient advice ‘Look before you leap’….


all ears

Definition: To show a keen interest

Example: “I’m all ears!” Karen said to her sister, sensing there was some juicy gossip to be heard.


All ears‘ first appeared in print in the eighteenth century. Its origin is purely descriptive. As we use our ears to hear, and most of our communication is done verbally, to be ‘all ears’ means to focus all your attention on hearing what is being said.

Iddy is not enjoying his new look. He has often complained about a general lack of ears, but now he has these, things have become ridiculous!


bite your tongue

Definition: Be quiet! Don’t say that!

Example: Hillary wanted to tell Donald what she really thought of him, but instead she bit her tongue and kept quiet.


Bite your tongue‘ is a popular phrase originates at least to the time of Shakespeare. He used  a variation of it in  Henry VI.

It is supposed it refers to the fact that if you hold your tongue between your teeth, it is impossible to speak. Alternatively, perhaps it is a proposed form of punishment. Say something nasty, and you should be forced to chomp down.  After all, biting your tongue is extremely painful.

There are a couple of closely related phrases:

Hold your tongue” which has the identical meaning. ‘Hold’ in this instance means to stop, not to literally take hold of it.

Wash your mouth out (with soap)” for when somebody has used profanities.

Iddy has had his fair share of having his mouth washed out over the years. A mouth that big is bound to get you into trouble….