What is the meaning of ‘tried to get fresh with someone’?

(Ratan Reddy, Hyderabad)

This expression is mostly used in informal contexts; many people consider it to be slang. When you ‘get fresh with someone’, you behave rather arrogantly with the person. You don’t show the respect the individual deserves. When a woman accuses a man of getting fresh with her, it means he is behaving in an inappropriate manner. People who are accused of getting fresh have overstepped the boundaries of acceptable behaviour.

*Don’t get fresh with me. Do as you are told.

*The secretary accused the boss of getting fresh with her.

What is the meaning and origin of ‘jump the gun’?

(M.S. Vaithianathan, Madurai)

This is something that every individual is guilty of sometime or the other. When you ‘jump the gun’, you act rather prematurely; you act before the appropriate or proper time. The expression is mostly used when you do or say something without thinking things through. You take some course of action without having the full facts before you. The use of this idiom suggest that you are being impatient, and as a result will end up making an impulsive or unwise decision.

*At this point, we cannot jump the gun and say it is a hate crime.

*I’ll wait for all the facts to come in. I’m not prepared to jump the gun.

There are several theories about the origin of this idiom which has been around for over 300 years. According to one, it comes from the world of athletics. When we had running races in school, the starter used to say ‘on your mark, get set, go’. In the past, especially in big athletic events, the starter would fire a gun into the air instead of saying ‘Go’. Some athletes would ‘jump the gun’ and start running before the gun had been fired. They would be called back and the race would start all over again. Nowadays, of course, if a runner jumps the gun, he is disqualified from the race.

Why do native speakers say ‘bless you’ when someone sneezes?

(L. Jaya, Mysore)

People in the past were very superstitious; they did everything possible to keep the Devil at bay. A few hundred years ago, people in Europe believed that whenever someone sneezed violently, the individual’s soul came out with the sneeze — resulting in the death of the person. In order to prevent this from happening, people sought the blessings of God — they called upon the Almighty to ‘bless’ the individual and prevent the soul from leaving the body. Although people these days do not believe that an individual’s soul will escape along with a sneeze, the expression ‘bless you’ continues to be used. It’s become an automatic response when you hear someone sneeze.

Is it okay to say, ‘We saw some beautiful sceneries’?

(G. Aditya, Nellore)

The word ‘scenery’ refers to the beautiful landscape of a place. It is an uncountable noun; therefore, the plural of ‘scenery’ is ‘scenery’; it is not preceded by ‘a’.

*The climbers spent a few seconds admiring the breathtaking scenery.

*What beautiful scenery!

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“My boss asked me to start the presentation with a joke. So I attached my payslip to the first slide.” — Unknown

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