What Is the Origin of the Saying "To Pull Your Finger Out"?
When you tell someone to pull your finger out, you are telling them to hurry up or to complete a task quicker. This term derives from when artillerymen would push gunpowder into the ignition chamber of their guns with their fingers and hold the powder in place by keeping their finger in the hole of the ignition chamber. (Normally, a wooden plug would be used for this purpose, but it was quicker to use a finger.) Keen to fire the weapon, the gun commander would shout pull your finger out to the powder filler just before the gun was fired.
Test Your Knowledge of English Proverbs and Idioms
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.
"Smashing Grammar" Written by the founder of Grammar Monster, "Smashing Grammar" includes a glossary of grammar essentials (from apostrophes to zeugma) and a chapter on easily confused words (from affect/effect to whether/if). Each entry starts with a simple explanation and basic examples before moving to real-life, entertaining examples. All entries conclude with a section highlighting why the grammar point is relevant for a writer and top-level bullet points summarizing the entry. If you like Grammar Monster, you'll love this book. [More…]
"Grammar for Grown-ups" Vocational rather than academic, "Grammar for Grown-ups" is packed with real-life examples and keeps you engaged with a wealth of great quotations from Homer the Greek to Homer the Simpson. Straight talking and methodical, Craig Shrives draws on his years compiling Grammar Monster and as an army officer to present a comprehensive but light-hearted and easily digestible grammar reference guide. [More…]