Know your English Education

Drink up, will you?

“Here’s your coffee. Better drink it before it gets cold. So, how was your weekend?”

“It was pretty good, actually. Managed to complete a couple of assignments, and also managed to watch a couple of really good movies.”

“Looks like you had a better weekend than I did! Spent most of Saturday cleaning the cupboards. Found a lot of junk to get rid of. On Sunday, I visited Hari and tried to get him to take me to lunch. But you know how close-fisted he is.”

“Close-fisted? Does it mean someone who doesn’t like to spend money?”

“It means stingy. A close-fisted person is someone who hates spending money. He’s a miser. Other words that have more or less the same meaning are ‘tight-fisted’ and ‘hard-fisted’.”

“In other words, a ‘tight-fisted’ person holds on to his money very tightly.”

“That’s right! He doesn’t like to let go of it. My mother always told me that my uncle was tight-fisted. But when I got married, he gave me a cheque for one lakh.”

“Wow! How about this example? My brother is fairly well to do, but there’s no point in going to him for money. He’s close-fisted.”

“Sounds good. Unlike ‘tight-fisted’ and ‘close-fisted’, the word ‘hard-fisted’ is considered rather old fashioned. My former boss had the reputation of being hard-fisted. Is there something wrong with the coffee? Does it…”

“The coffee is fine. Why do you ask?”

“You’ve been nursing it for a pretty long time. You haven’t really….”

“Nursing my coffee? Doesn’t nurse mean to take care of someone who is ill or is not feeling very well? For example, the old man was nursed back to health by his neighbour.”

“That’s a good example! The children nursed the sick puppy for several weeks.”

“I understand that example. But tell me, how I can make a cup of coffee feel better? I mean, how can I nurse a cup of coffee?”

“You see, the word ‘nurse’, when used as a verb, has several different meanings. One of them, as you have rightly pointed out, is to take care of someone who is ill. It can also be used to mean to drink something very slowly or…”

“In other words, when you nurse a cup of coffee or tea, you take a long time to drink it.”

“Exactly! Sometimes, you may not even finish drinking it. You may just hold the cup for a long time without really taking a sip from it. At the party, Ajay sat in a corner nursing a glass of beer.”

“Meaning that Ajay sat with the glass of beer for a long time. He didn’t drink anything else while he was nursing it.”

“I guess you could say that.”

“My friend Dilip is nothing like Ajay. Whenever he goes to a party, he gulps down an entire glass at one go. There’s no question of nursing a glass of beer.”

“I have a few friends who are like that. But most of mine nurse their drink — especially when they go to a bar.”

“Maybe it’s because your friends are tight-fisted! They don’t want to spend too much money on their drinks!”

“Drink your coffee, will you?”

********

Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death and sweet as love. Turkish proverb

The writer taught at the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad. upendrankye@gmail.com


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Printable version | Dec 3, 2021 1:32:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/a-column-on-vocabulary-grammar-idioms-and-more/article36913022.ece

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