Familial Phrases (Idioms)

As we approach the holidays my family comes to mind so I thought I would share with you some phrases using family words.


Say Uncle - This is a term used when someone is tormenting another person and asking them to ask for mercy.  For example: If you were twisting my arm and I was crying out in pain you would say, "Say uncle!" to get me to ask for mercy and stop hurting me.  Kind of a strange phrase...


Mother lode - A major or profitable source of supply.  

This term originated from mining in the 1860s.  A lode is a deposit of metal so the mother lode meant a rich or important find of metal.

e.g. We are digging for clams (shiohigari ) and you come upon an area with a lot of them in a small area.  You would call out, "Wow, I think I have hit the mother lode!"


Mom-and-pop - This refers to a small business or restaurant, usually run by a family or a small group of people.  In Japan there are still a lot of mom-and-pop stores like the tofu vendor or the vegetable stand but in America they are disappearing. 


Blood brothers - As you might have guessed it, it means close male friends.  When I was growing up we would cut our hands and commingle the blood while shaking hands.  That was the ultimate sacrifice of pain endurance to show your devotion.


To be grandfathered - If you are grandfathered into something that means that you are exempt from new rules or changes because you already have a set condition or privilege. 

e.g.  Your credit card company decides to start charging an annual fee but you don't pay one now.  They will usually grandfather you and you won't have to pay an annual fee as long as you don't change anything.


Hope everyone has a safe and happy holidays!


- Scott