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5 interesting sport idioms that can be used in everyday life

Idioms are phrases frequently used by native speakers. This baggage of words is now part of everyday communication, as is often the case with the sport. Sport is a popular subject for many people and often speech becomes part of the language, such as at work or in everyday life. Today's topic is to talk about some of the ways of saying that we usually use in daily conversations and that can relate to sport.
It could be write a whole volume on the sport idioms in which one could give an account of ways of saying, technicalities, neologisms, loans from other disciplines, daring war metaphors or the most harmless metonymies, to arrive at the epithets (the Phenomenon for Ronaldo or the Pupone for Totti), the hyperbols and the foreigners (the sport itself is an anglicism with French origin) that have characterised it for decades now.

5 widespread idioms in sport

Not to mention the language of cheering and specialised journalism. The most important and recognisable elements, however, are perhaps the sporty idioms, deriving from the most popular disciplines but now an integral part of everyday language.

Have you ever wondered what language you could use to compliment or criticise someone's actions? Here is a collection of idioms related to sport and being active in general.

  1. Follower
  2. Put in a corner
  3. Throw in the towel / On the ropes
  4. May the wind always be at your back
  5. Hang up your boots

1. Follower

Second only to football for popularity, and among the first disciplines to spread internationally, cycling, remains popular at top level in particular in Italy and UK at least until the fifties. Its technical language and idioms, however, has never entered the common language as much as it could have, even for the low average literacy rate of the time, which forced reporters to use the least amount of technical terms possible.
Some of these idioms, however, are nevertheless transmigrated in extra-cyclists everyday life, especially those that indicate particular figures or situations. This is the case of a follower (also called domestique), a term that indicates the professional cyclist who has the task, within the team, to help the main runner (captain) during the race, carrying out fundamental actions such as:

  • providing food or water bottles to his companions,
  • shuttling with the team car
  • setting the pace in the mountain stretches and in view of the sprint.
They are therefore athletes who are more behind the scenes than the champions, but who play a key role in the teams. Become one of the sporty idioms In the common language, it indicates a person who assists another, usually more experienced, in complex and difficult situations, performing tasks that are crucial to the success of the project.

2. On the ropes

Another sport imported from France at the beginning of the twentieth century, even if it is a discipline that in its modern form was born in England, is boxing. In this case, there are many technical idioms that have come into common use all over the world ("break", "ring", "ko", "round"), as well as idioms. Any boxer or simple enthusiast knows, for example, how dangerous it is to be forced by the opponent into the corner of the ring without being able to escape either to the right or to the left because they are more susceptible to being hit without being able to defend as well.
A situation where you are put on the ropes suggests particularly unfavourable circumstances in a position that leaves no escape or possible ways out.

3. Throw in the towel (or sponge)

Another situation that no boxer would ever want to experience during the match is when the coach, decides to stop the fight because he realises that the athlete is no longer able to continue. And he does so by throwing the towel on the ground.
A gesture that is equivalent to a declaration of surrender and is one of the defeats for a technical knockout, but that has expanded its meaning beyond the confines of the ring to indicate the act of surrendering and withdrawing, thus renouncing an undertaking, and thus declaring their inadequacy or inability to complete it.

4. May the wind always be at your back

If popular activities such as football or cycling have remained hegemonic in coining idioms then entered common use, even those less popular disciplines have given language formulas which have been  converted into idioms. Sometimes, changing sense or meaning. Let's take the boating industry, for example, where a pace such as that of the stern, which is extremely dangerous and that requires a lot of attention.
For example, a rapid change in the direction of the wind can put at risk the safety of the crew and the boat itself without warning which means the best way to proceed is when external conditions are the most favorable to achieve the goal you have set quickly and safely.

5. Hang up your boots

We conclude with one of the many figurative idioms initially created for exclusively sporting use and consumption, but which then extended to fields that were not only athletic or football.
If, for example, hanging shoes by the nail, is one of  the classic idioms that it is adopted to describe the moment in which a sportsman retires and abandons the competitive activity, in common use is used more generally for anyone who leaves his job or profession, perhaps replacing the shoes with the tool that identifies it most (for a painter it will be the brush, for a writer the pen, etc..). In English, a similar expression is used to indicate the same concept: to hang up one's boots, literally, to hang your own football boots.

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