Does your language have idioms that come from technology? We use technology in so many parts of our daily life, so it's natural that many English expressions have come from this field. Learn these idioms to make your English sound more fluent and natural. This lesson has all the bells and whistles. If you don't know what that means yet, there's no need to hit the panic button -- I'll show you what makes this English tick.
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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.