Kang GURU — Aussie
Idioms and Slang
The idioms and Aussie slang expressions used on this Kang Guru language page are basically taken from Kang Guru
radio program tapescripts. These bilingual radio programs are broadcast on over 200+ radio stations across Indonesia every week.
An idiom can be defined as a number of words which, when taken together, have a different meaning from the individual
meanings of each word.
Idioms cannot be checked using a dictionnary! Here just a few Aussie idioms for you.
excellent, very good
Australian Rules Football
she'll be apples
everything will be alright
an Aussie salute
brushing away flies from
your face with your hand
If you would like a copy of Kang Guru's ‘Best of Idioms Inggris’ (only available on CD) then write
to us and tell us why you want it and what do you plan to do with it.
Last updated February 28th, 2013
Idioms, idioms, idioms!
When we were writing the March 2008 Kang Guru magazine, we brainstormed for idioms and phrases about fashion, dressing or clothes and here are just a few of the idioms we came up with! There’s a lot!
- keep your shirt on
- give you the shirt off my back
- all dressed up and nowhere to go
- dressed to the nines
- dressed to kill
- done up like a dog's dinner
- the bee’s knees
- hot under the collar and
- at the drop of a hat.
And these are not all of them! Amazing eh?
A Okay Kevin, let’s just look at two today.
K Good idea Ayu.
A Let’s start with giving someone the shirt off your back. Look at this example -
S I know I can always depend on my friend Harry. He would give me the shirt off his back.
This idiom suggests that Harry would give me all his money, possession seven the shirt off his back – that's a real friend, right? Kevin, would you give someone the shirt off your back?
K I would if they were a good friend of mine – yeah, for sure.
A The second idiom is to get hot under the collar. A collar is at the top of a shirt or jacket and is often fastened around the neck - kerah.
If someone gets hot under the collar it usually means they are very angry.
S Sandy got very hot under the collar when his brother pointed out he was wrong.
K Have you ever been hot under the collar? The opposite meaning to hot under the collar would be to keep your cool. That means staying very calm.
I’m planning to take a long holiday this year because I worked my fingers to the bone last year. I really need sometime off work. How about you Ayu?
Well Sonya, it’s a new year and everything is new for me. I’ve got new hair cut and a new job and new colleagues.
Yes, how do you feel working with Kang Guru?
Well Sonya, it’s a whole new ball game for me. I still have to learn lots of things!
I find learning about idioms is very useful. When I was in Australia people use idioms a lot in their conversations. Although I’m an English teacher I still find it difficult if people use idiom in speaking. I always asked them to explain the meaning for me because I could never guess.
KGRE looked at two simple words in English - clean and dirty. There are several idioms and phrases in English which
use these words. KGRE has chosen just three for you today. They are connected to the environmental theme running
through these KGRE programs and this is the theme for the September magazine too. Here's Ana and Sonia to tell
us about these idioms.
Here's the first word – clean.
And the two sayings are ‘clean as a whistle’ and
‘clean up your act.’ Sonja can tell us about these words.
If someone is as clean as a whistle they are not involved in anything illegal. He hasn't got a criminal
record, he's as clean as a whistle.
The second saying is ‘clean up your act.’ If someone tells you to clean up your act they
are asking you to stop doing something other people do not approve of and start behaving in a more acceptable way. ‘The
organisation wasn't telling the truth about their involvement in illegal logging. It's time they cleaned up their
Here's the second word – it's the opposite of clean – can you guess? Yes that's right, dirty. What idioms
or phrases use the word dirty?
If someone gives you a ‘dirty look’ be careful! It means they are looking at you in an angry
way. Listen to this example.
‘I don't know what I said to annoy her but she really gave me a dirty look.’
Here's one of the idioms from the June 2007 KGRE magazine. It’s a good idiom to know. It is often used in
conversations and is quite informal.
The idiom for today is this one - when in Rome do as the Romans do. That’s right
- when in Rome do as the Romans do.
People from different places have different ways of doing things. If we say when in Rome do as the Romans do,it
means copy what the local people are doing. Do as they do and follow their example.
Here’s an example -
'In Australia, karaoke is not as popular as in Indonesia. If Steve, an Australian, went to karaoke with some Indonesian
friends in Jakarta he might be shy about singing and say, ’Back home we would never sing in front of other
people.’ His friends might say, ‘Oh come on, give it a try! When in Rome do as the Romans do!’
Let’s recap on the idiom for today.
when in Rome do as the Romans do - maksudnya adalah ketika berada di Roma berlakulah seperti orang Romawi
Here are two idioms that you’ll enjoy. They are quite common. Maybe you can start using them too.
Learn them! Use them! Enjoy them! They ALL use the word snake in them
– ular ya?
The first one is snake in the grass.
My sister had a new boyfriend last week. He has gone now and all he wanted was my sister’s money. He was a
real snake in the grass. Not an honest person at all.
Now for the next idiom. We use this one when we are really angry. It is as 'mad as a cut snake'.
Last night my father found out that I had lost a lot of his money. He was so angry – he
was as mad as a cut snake at me.
Let's review these two idioms which use the word snake in them.
snake in the grass - orang yg licik
mad as a cut snake - marah sekali
Here are two idioms and they are quite common. Maybe you can start using them too. Learn them! Use them! Enjoy them!
They ALL use the word cat in them
– kucing ya?
The first one is let the cat out of the bag. We use this idiom if we want to say that someone has revealed
a secret. Perhaps they have told someone about something that was a secret. Here's Sonja, out Idioms expert with
an example for you today.
My sister didn't know about my problems with the police. That was a secret. However my husband told her all about
those problems. I was so angry. My sister let the cat out of the bag. She told him everything!
Now for the next idiom. We use this one when someone will not answer a simple question OR maybe when someone is
silent when the have been asked a question about a problem. We say has the cat got your tongue? Here’s
Last night I noticed that some money was missing from my bag. I asked my 8 year old son about it. Maybe he knew
something but he just looked at me and said nothing. I asked him again. He was still silent and he just looked
at me. I said to him, ‘What’s the problem? Has the cat got your tongue?’
let the cat out of the bag - membocorkan rahasia
has the cat got your tongue - kenapa tidak mau bicara atau menjawab
Today we tell us about two more idioms used to talk about learning things. Do you remember the last two idioms we
told you about in show 5503? They were
‘to teach someone a lesson’ and ‘to live and learn.’
Have you used them yet, maybe in conversation or perhaps in something you have written? It’s always a good
idea when you learn something new to try and use it as soon as you can. That way you don’t forget!
The first idiom today is to learn something off by heart. Another way of saying this is to say ‘to learn
something parrot fashion’. That’s right, parrot fashion, just like the talking bird!
Richard knew his tables perfectly, not one mistake at all. He beat everyone else in the class. He obviously learnt
them off by heart and can repeat them parrot fashion.
The second idiom today is often used in fun. The idiom is, 'you can’t teach an old dog new tricks'.
There is another way to say this, 'you can’t get a new tune out of an old violin'.
My grandfather is a great cook. His cakes are always perfect and delicious. However recently he took a microwave
cooking course. He found it very difficult to change the way he cooks cakes. He failed the course. Oh well, I guess
you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
‘to learn something off by heart’ or ‘manghafal / membeo’
‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ or ’sulit merubah ketrampilan / kebiasaan yang
sudah dilakukan bertahun-tahun.’
The theme of the Kang Guru March 2006 magazine is education and on page three Kang Guru included some idioms that
revolve around teaching, schools and learning. I'm going to tell you about two of those idioms today.
The first is, to teach someone a lesson. If we 'teach someone a lesson' it means that they have done something
wrong or perhaps been careless. They need to be shown what they did was wrong, or maybe even dangerous and they
need to be shown this very clearly.
Here's a good example. Listen carefully to find out how someone was taught a lesson.
My older brother left the front door of our house open yesterday when he went out. Anyone could have walked in and
stolen something. My mother decided to teach him a lesson and hid some of his new computer games in a cupboard.
She told him a thief came in through the unlocked door and stole them. He was very upset. My mother finally gave
him back his computer games, but she had certainly taught him a lesson for sure. He won't leave the door unlocked
again in a hurry.’
Have you ever been 'taught a lesson'. Here's the second idiom today, live and learn . If someone
has made a mistake or done something wrong and feel bad about it then this expression can often help that person
to not feel so bad.
I hear that you missed an important exam yesterday. That's really too bad. Traffic in Jakarta is always a problem.
You should have left home earlier, you know. Oh well, you live and learn, right? Next time leave home much earlier.’
In English there are many words that mean friend. Some of these are mate, buddy and pal. For example,
the Joeys are all good mates. This week they learned some new idioms about friendship. The first one is ‘get
on like a house on fire’. What do you think that means? It means to have a lot in common and really enjoy
each other's company. Here's Sonia with a good example of how to use this idiom.
Sonia Natalya and Fatimah are great mates. They get on like a house on fire. They’re always doing
things together after school.
Our second idiom is ‘get on well with each other’. That means to have a friendly relationship.
Sonia Ali and Sinta are pals. They get on well with each other and like to work together as club treasurers.
The last idiom today is ‘like chalk and cheese’. That means to be very different, the opposites
of each other. Can you give us a good example of how to use this idiom Sonia?
Sonia Budi and Samuel are buddies, but they're like chalk and cheese. Budi's always on time for club meetings,
but Samuel's often late. It's a mystery why they're such good friends.
Idioms inggris is one of KGRE's most popular segments. It is a great way to learn about some of the odd things that
people say in English – a bit like jakan tikus, right? Odd, funny and always interesting!
Here are some idioms about cities and towns.
The first one is 'the big smoke'. We often use this idioms to describe a big city. A long time
ago county people started calling cities ‘the big smoke’ because of all the smoke made by the
pollution, in other words.
‘My brother's gone to the big smoke to look for work. In the city there might be some work for him
in one of those big factories?’
The next idiom for today is a 'one horse town'. This old idiom was often used to describe a very small
town many, many years ago when horses were used instead of cars. These towns were very quiet and not much happened
in those town at all. In fact they were so small that there was only one horse there.
This idiom is still used today. It is the opposite to the big smoke, that's for sure!
‘I grew up in a one horse town. There was only with only one shop. Nothing much happened there in
that town. It was very quiet day and night’.
Now let’s recap on these two easy idioms to use–
big smoke - kota besar
one horse town - kota kecil
The first idiom for this show is a 'train of thought'. In Indonesian you could say serangkaian ide or serangkaian
pemikiran. A train of thought is a series of connected ideas, just like a line of railway carriages. Sometimes
when we're talking about something really interesting we have a lot we want to say. Then a friend comes to ask if
she can borrow a pen. We try to start the conversation again but we can't remember what we were going to say. Here's
Sonia with a good example.
‘Dewi interrupted my train of thought. Now I can't remember what I was going to say!’
The second idiom today is 'ships that pass in the night' or kapal yang berpapasan pada waktu malam .
Have you ever met someone really interesting who made a big impression on you? We often meet these people only once
or twice and don't ever see them again. We say we are 'ships that pass in the night'.
One day a friend showed me a photograph of a man she met ten years ago.
‘I met him at the airport and we talked for two hours until his plane left. I never saw him again but I'll
always remember him. We were like two ships that pass in the night.’
The first idiom is 'in the same boat'. To be 'in the same boat' as someone else means that you're
both in the same difficult or unpleasant situation or in Indonesian - dalam situasi yang sama. University
students often have a lot of assignments due at the end of the semester and it's very hard to get them all finished
on time. One day I heard two students talking about this and one of them said:
‘I agree, it's hard to get them all done, but at least we're all in the same boat.’
The second idiom is ‘put the cart before the horse’. This means to do things in the wrong order
or, in Indonesian - salah menempatkan prioritas. For example, buying new clothes to wear to a wedding before
you get an invitation, or worrying about where you will live in Jakarta before you have the interview for a new
job. Here's Sonia with another good example of how to use this idiom.
‘My brother is worried about the food he'll eat when he goes to Australia, but he hasn't even applied for
his scholarship yet. He's always putting the cart before the horse!’
When Kevin from Kang Guru spoke with Anggun a few weeks ago she used a terrific idiom and here it is for you to
learn today. Here is Anggun and the idiom she used. Anggun is learning the Italian language so Kevin asked her
about that first.
Kevin: So are you learning Italian or have you given up?
Anggun: I wanted to learn but the thing is if I don't live in the city or in the place where everyone speaks
Italian then I'm not sure I can catch up with the language very easily.
Kevin: So is it right you started learning French after you moved to France? Is it what happened? And did you
find living in the city obviously was a great or in the country was a great help immerse immersion.
Anggun: Oh ya because I didn't, I really didn't have any other choice than to speak the language.
The idiom Anggun used it ‘catch up’. Anggun told Kang Guru that living in France has helped
her to learn French BUT she doesn't live in Italy so learning that language has been more difficult. Living in the
country really helps to learn the language of that country. Anggun says she doesn't live in Italy so it is hard
to ‘catch up’ with the language.
Anggun uses the idiom but maybe we will use it in a different context. To ‘catch up’ sort of
means to do something quickly, to advance quicker than usual. It is sort of means extra work or activity to get
to a certain level.
'I have been sick for three weeks and now I have to ‘catch up’ on all my work'.
To recap in that sentence, to catch up means saya harus menyelesaikan berkerjaan
We love idioms, don't we? Here are two today from the June 2006 KGRE magazine
– they are good ones to learn.
Here's the first one – gig. In the world of entertainment, music and concerts, the word 'gig' is
often used. A 'gig' is a musical event and usually from the perspective of the performer or artist. Artists
often say they have a 'gig' on, or in other words they have a work commitment to perform.
'Did you know that when Tommy Tjokro was living in Brisbane, Australia, he was a member of a musical group?
He often had gigs at his university and you know what? His band often performed when August 17th came around.'
The second idiom is - 'on ya bike'. The bicycle is a wonderful piece of technology. Do you ever wonder
how many millions and millions of bicycles there are in the world? Or even how many bicycles there are in Indonesia?
In Australia there is an expression which means to go, get outta here, I don’t want to talk to you anymore – just
'Heh, I have had enough of you. Just get out of here and leave me alone, Okay? On ya bike and don’t come
gig - tampil bermain musik dan menyanyi
on ya bike - silakan pergi
This week we have two idioms to do with work or rather, stopping work. Some people decide to stop work and change
jobs. Maybe they have a new job to go to. Maybe they want to try something different. So today, let ‘s look
at two idioms that fit this work-related situation.
The first one is to 'move on', or 'moving on'. If someone has decided to 'move on', or
we can say they are 'moving on', they have decided that it is time to try something new, to try make changes
in their lives.
I hear that Sam is leaving his job today. He has decided to try something different. I guess Sam has decided to move
on and try something new. We wish him all the best for his new career. Good luck.
The second idiom is 'time for a change'. This basically means that the time has come to try something else.
It does not always have to do with work but often it is used in that situation.
His friends say that Sam has decided that it is time for a change –
he wanted to do something different, a new job. It may be because he wasn’t happy with the job. It may be
because he was bored.
Let’s recap on today’s idioms–
move on or moving on - memulai sesuatu yg baru
time for a change - waktunya untuk perubahan
Our first idiom is about work. It is ‘all work and no play’.
We use this idiom when someone works very hard and maybe long hours. It is great to work hard and so many people
do – Agnes Monika and Nicholas Saputra for example. But if someone only works and that's all they do then
that is not so good – according to some people anyway.
I don’t know about Piyu, but I am working too hard really. I need some time to enjoy myself. As they say, all
work and no play is not good.
The second idiom today is one that Piyu used on Kang Guru. He used it to show how busy he was making the soundtrack
for the movie ‘Ungu Violet’. He only had 2 weeks to do the work and so he said it was
so tight. Here's Piyu today on KGRE.
'Ten songs and one song was err on the film ‘Ungu Violet’. The tracks is called ‘Menanti Sebuah
Jawaban’. I’m, I’m producing the scoring film and I’m in in that film too'. The film
is so so successful, err it’s a teenage movie. And er actually I’m not very happy of my work in movie
because it was so tight. It’s about time limits and deadlines and ….
Piyu said the work was a 'tight fit' – in other words it was hectic and rushed and very busy. He
could hardly do the job in the time he had to finish it.
Sonja is here today to help us explain two more strange English idioms. We just heard Sarah talking about ‘bush
walking’, so today's idioms use the word ‘walk’. The first idiom is to ‘walk
it’. To ‘walk it’ means to succeed or to win easily. Sonja, can you please
help our listeners understand by giving us an example with ‘to walk it’.
‘I was watching the badminton on the TV yesterday. Taufik Hidyiat was playing against someone I never heard
of before. Taufik walked it. He beat the other guy really easily. I felt sorry for the other guy; he
never had a chance.’
Our second idiom today is to ‘walk on air’. That means to be really happy. Sonja can you
give us an example please.
‘I am walking on air today because I just got a letter from the University. I got a scholarship.
I can't believe it I'm so happy.’
The first idiom was to ‘walk it’ and that means memenangkan dengan sanyat mudah.
The second idiom was to ‘walk on air’ and that really means to be merasa sargatgembira
or serpati terbang di udara.
Today's idioms are to do with travel. The first one is ‘to hit the road’. ‘To
hit the road’ means to begin a journey or to leave somewhere. Sonja can you give us an example please?
‘Our flight is leaving in 2 hours, so let's hit the road, otherwise we won't get there on time.’
Our next idiom is ‘to get away’. This means to take a holiday because you really need a
rest. Sonja, can you give us an example please?
‘This month I have been working so hard. I have been working seven days a week, twelve hours a day. Then I
go home and take care of my family. I really need to get away. But it's ok I have some time off next month and I'm
going on a holiday. I am really looking forward to getting away.’
‘To hit the road’ means ‘berangkat/memulai perjalanan’.
‘To get away’ is ‘berlibur / melepaskan diri dari rutinitas’.
I've got two more interesting idioms for you today. I have chosen these because you will hear them used in the programme
today. So listen carefully and see if you can hear them later on in part four.
The first one is ‘pick it up’. ‘Pick it up’ has a couple of different
meanings. But in today's programme it means to learn something without going to class and without a teacher. That's
to learn from experience. It is often used when people learn a language because they are in the country where the
language is spoken. They don't go to class or study; they learn it by hearing it spoken and by trying to use it.
‘Probably the best way to learn the job is to sit with one of the staff and see what they do. You'll soon pick
The next idiom today is ‘to get by’. And, just like ‘pick it up’,
you will hear it later on in section four. ‘To get by’ also has a few different meanings
but today it means to manage or to cope with. Maybe you don't know something well, but you know enough to manage
so you ‘get by’.
‘Before I came to Indonesia I tried to learn some Bahasa Indonesia. I didn't know very much before I got here.
I knew how to greet people, to ask how much something costs and some numbers. And I knew how to ask for directions.
That's all. But it was enough to get by.’
OK. So today's idioms were: ‘belajar dari pengalaman’ that means to ‘pick it up’.
The next one was ‘bisa mengatasi’
and that means to ‘get by’. And don't forget to listen out for both of these in section
four, after the next song.
Today's idioms are idioms using animals. There are so many idioms with animals in English. Sometimes they are easy
to understand but sometimes they are not. The first one today is to ‘work like a dog’.
It means that you work very, very hard. Here's Sonja with an example:
‘John is just so busy at work. He never has time to have lunch. He works 18 hours a day, seven days a week! John
works like a dog.’
Our second idiom today is a little more difficult to understand. Sometimes when somebody drinks a lot we say he
or she ‘drinks like a fish’. But we most often use this idiom if someone drinks a lot
of alcohol. Sonja can you give us an example please.
‘When my friend James comes to visit I have to buy lots of beer. He drinks like a fish.’
Today's idioms were ‘to work like a dog’, meaning to work very hard. In Bahasa Indonesia
that's like ‘bekerja keras’. And ‘to drink like a fish’, which means to drink
a lot, especially a lot of alcohol. In Bahasa Indonesia that's ‘suka minum terutama minuman alkohol’.
Try and use those as soon as you can. It will help you to remember them.
It is Idioms Inggris time again right here on KGRE. Did you know that idioms Inggris is one of KGRE's most
popular segments? Well, it certainly is! That's because many of you want to be able to speak like a real native
– don't you agree? Well, here we go today with more strange idioms for you – and today's idioms are
using the word ‘devil’.
If we say we had ‘a devil of a time’ it means we had quite a few problems. ‘A
devil of time’ is used when we want to say that a certain activity or event was not so easy. Here's
Sonja with an example of how to use it:
‘We tried to get the goats into the truck so we could take them to market. The goats did not want to get into
the truck. We had a devil of a time getting them in. It took us nearly an hour.’
‘Better the devil you know’ is another popular idiom. We use this idiom if we want to say
that it is better to go somewhere or maybe do something with someone that you are already familiar with. It is better
to do this than try something or someone new, even if the old one is not so good either. Here's Sonja again:
‘I can go to the meeting tomorrow with either my neighbour or my brother. My brother is okay although he really
talks too much. I am not sure about my neighbour though. I have heard he is very mean and loud. Perhaps I will go
with my brother even though he talks too much. Better the devil you know!’
‘devil of a time’ — ‘sesuatu yang sulit dilakukan’
‘better the devil you know’ — ‘masih lebih baik mengenal/paham tentang sesnatu
meskipun haltersebut tidak menyenangkan’
Are you ready for some more idioms? Have you got your pens out? Our idioms today are about school and study. The
first one is actually not too difficult. It's ‘hit the books’. Hit the books means to
study. So, here's Sonja with an example for you.
‘I've got my final examinations next month. So I can't go to the beach this weekend – I've got to hit
Our next idiom today is ‘old school’. A group or a person who has traditional ideas or
who prefers old-fashioned ways is said to be of the ‘old school’. Can you give us an example
‘My grandmother was from the old school and always made her children make their own lunches and
walk to school.’
So let's go over those once more. The first idiom was ‘to hit the books’ it means to study
so that's ‘belajar’ in Bahasa Indonesia. The second idiom today was ‘old school’ or ‘kulot
kuno’ in Bahasa Indonesia. This one means to have old-fashioned ideas or traditional thinking.
How about ‘drives me bananas’. We use this idiom when we want to say that someone or something
is making us confused, making us ‘go crazy’ or even making us a little angry. Here's Sonja
to show you how to use it:
‘The old man comes to my house every day. Sometimes five or six times a day asking for something. Sometimes
he asks for sugar or tea or rice or fruit. I never get a rest as he's at the house all the time — he drives
me bananas actually.’
You can also use ‘nuts’ — ‘kacang’
— instead of ‘bananas’. Here is a present continuous tense version of the idiom for you.
‘If he doesn't stop coming around all the time I will have to tell him to stop. He is driving me nuts.’
Our next idiom is ‘life is a bowl of cherries’. If we say ‘life is a bowl of
cherries’ we mean that our life is pretty good and that we are very happy with what is going on in
‘I have a great job here in Bali. My children are happy at school and when I really think about it – life
is a bowl of cherries actually. I couldn't be happier really.’
‘driving me bananas’ or ‘driving me nuts’ — ‘membuat
orang frustrasi atau sedikit marah’
‘life is a bowl of cherries’ — ‘kehidupan yg menyenangkan’
There is an interesting expression in English, ‘all walks of life’. A walk of life is like
a position or place in society. So it's meaning includes a job or profession and a social class or level in society.
Usually we say that a king and farmer are from different ‘walks of life’. So all walks
of life really means all people. For example, people from ‘all walks of life’ enjoy watching
television. Everyone, whether they are rich or poor, educated or not, all enjoy watching television. Here's Sonja
with another example to help you understand this idiom. Sonja:
‘Australians from all walks of life donated money to help the Indonesian victims of the tsunami.
Young and old, rich and poor, city people and country people, students and professionals all gave whatever they
There are many other expressions and idioms in English using the word
‘walk’. Another one of my favourites is to ‘walk on egg shells’. An egg shell, ‘kulit
telor’, is the delicate outside part of an egg. If you walk on or drop an egg, the shell will break very easily.
We use ‘to walk on egg shells’ when we want to say that perhaps someone should be very
careful. You should behave, or walk, carefully so that the egg shells do not break. Here's Sonja with an example
of how to use this idiom:
‘My boss is in a terrible mood today. I'll have to walk on eggshells around her. I will have
to be very careful not to upset her or make her angry at me.’
‘to walk on egg shells’ — ‘bertindak dengan berhati hati’
‘all walks of life’ — ‘semua golongan profesi dan latar belakang’
This idiom is probably one of the longest I know of. It is this. Are you ready?
‘You can take the boy out of the country but you can't take the country out of the boy.’
What does it mean and when do we use it? Well, it means that it is often difficult to change someone. People do
change in many ways but often their basic personality is not so easy to change. People remain basically the same,
For example a boy (or a girl) who grows up in the country or desa, maybe on a farm, will always be a country sort
of person even if they go and live in the city. They will never fully lose all of their country ways of thinking
‘Young Jack is now a successful and rich businessman in Sydney. He owns a big house and drives an expensive
car. He moved from the country about twenty years ago when he was 19 years old. But you know what? He still loves
to go home to his parent's farm and work with his dad. He says it is really what he loves to do to relax. ‘You
can take the boy out of the country but you can't take the country out of the boy.’
The idiom is generally used when talking about ‘country boys and girls’. Here is a different idiom which
actually can be used in many different situations and basically means the same thing. It tends to be used in a negative
way though. Here's Sonja again.
‘I haven't seen Sally for along time. But she is still the same. She still finds it difficult to tell the
truth. I guess the old saying is true
— a leopard can't change its spots’.
A leopard is born with black spots all over its yellowish golden body, right? As it grows up it never loses those
spots. It has those spots until it dies. The idiom — ‘a leopard can't change its spots’ —
is very similar in meaning to the ‘country boy’ idiom.
To recap on today's idioms — both mean ‘tidak mudah merubah karakter seseorang’
The first idiom is ‘gives you an insight’. Now those words ‘gives you an
insight’ do not make any sense really but when used as a idiom they have a lot of meaning.
We use ‘gives you an insight’ when we want to explain that some activity or event has
helped us to understand something more easily or more clearly. It is the same as saying that the activity or
experience has opened up your eyes and that you now know a lot more than before. You have a better understanding
‘I knew quite a lot about Balinese culture before I came to live in Denpasar. Living here though has really given
me an insight into the culture that I never had before. I now understand more after seeing what really
happens in Bali.’
‘Living in Bali has really helped me to understand the Balinese culture a lot more. My understanding has gone
through the roof. I know a lot, lot more now that I did 6 months ago. It has been great living here.’
Idioms that use the word ‘power’ in them. We have two for you to think about and I hope that you will
use them soon. Don't forget to use them and then you will remember them more easily, okay?
The first idiom for today is ‘corridors of power’. Now a corridor is a hallway or way through
from one place to another. In this idiom today it is used as a place too — a place where very important people
are. It is a general term for a place which doesn't really exist though –
it is more a concept.
‘My best friend works in the Presidential Palace in Jakarta. He is a cook. He has never met the President.
But because he often works around the important people in the government he says he works in the corridors
of power. He almost believes he is a part of it all — a part of the government.’
The second idiom is ‘in power’. Now this is a bit easier and we will look at on the political
level. Here is Sonja again.
‘My friend may be close to the corridors of power but it is the President who is in power.
President Bush is in power in the USA and John Howard is in power in Australia.’
Okay let's recap on today's idioms–
‘corridors of power’ — ‘dalam lingkup kekuasaan’
‘in power’ — ‘berkuasa’
Two idioms which are very common in England – they use the words ‘tea’ and ‘cake’.
Mmm… sounds tasty!
The first one is ‘Not my cup of tea’. But it doesn't mean that the cup of tea doesn't belong
to me. We say ‘Not my cup of tea’ when we want to tell someone that we don't really like
something or are not interested in it. Listen to this example.
‘I went to the new aerobics class but it wasn't really my cup of tea. There was too much jumping
up and down and I got tired very quickly. I think I'll try some other form of exercise’.
The next idiom is ‘It's a piece of cake’. We use this when we want to say how easy something
is to do. For example:
‘I thought it would be difficult to learn how to ride a motorbike, but in fact it isn't. It's a piece
of cake! I learnt it in just two days’.
Let's recap for a minute–
‘Not my cup of tea’ — ‘tidak begitu suka’
‘It's a piece of cake’ — ‘sangat gampang’
Did you know that Idioms Inggris is one of KGRE's most popular segments? That's why I've chosen two
for you today, and very handy ones they are too, because they both use the word ‘hand’.
The first idiom is ‘to have your hands full’. We use ‘to have your hands full’ when
we want to say that we are really busy or have a lot of work to do. Have a listen to this example.
‘I'd love to help you but I have my hands full with this report right now. Maybe later, ok?’
Our second idiom today is ‘like the back of my hand’;. We say we ‘know something
like the back of our hand’ when we know it really well.
‘Oh no! I think we're lost. Don't worry, I know this place like the back of my hand. We'll soon
find our way home!’
Let's recap for a minute on today's idioms–
‘To have your hands full’ — ‘sangat sibuk’
‘To know something like the back of my hand —
‘mengenal dengan sangat baik’
On today's Idioms Inggris we're going to hear two very useful idioms which use the word ‘world’. The
first one is ‘to be on top of the world’. We use ‘to be on top of the world’ when
we want to show that we are in a happy mood, maybe because we have been successful at doing something or because
we feel in good health.
‘Jane's feeling on top of the world. She passed all her exams with top marks! Isn't that great?’
Our second idiom using ‘world’ is ‘small world’. We use this when we want to
express surprise at meeting someone we know in an unexpected place. We really didn't think we would see them in
this place. Let's hear it in an example.
‘Can you believe it, I met my old school friend when I went to Jakarta last week. We were both there at the
same time. What a small world.’
‘To feel on top of the world’ — ‘merasa senang sekali’
‘What a small world!’ — ‘dunia ini kecil!’
We've got two idioms today using the names of animals – butterflies and donkeys.
The first one is ‘butterflies in my stomach’. Someone has ‘butterflies in their
stomach’ when they feel really nervous about doing something, a bit like having lots of butterflies
flying around inside your stomach!
‘I've got butterflies in my stomach. I have to speak in front of 200 people this afternoon and
I feel so nervous.‘
The second idiom uses the word ‘donkey’. It's ‘donkey's years’, no, not ‘donkey's
ears’, ‘donkey's years’! ‘Donkey's years’ means ‘a
very, very long time’. Have a listen to this example.
‘I didn't recognise my old school friend Sally when I met her in the street. I haven't seen her for donkey's
years and she's changed such a lot.’
Let's recap on today's idioms–
‘butterflies in my stomach’ — ‘merasa gugup’
‘donkey's years’ — ‘lama sekali’
Colours are the theme of today's idioms – ‘black’ and
‘white’ to be precise. The first one is ‘give someone a black look’. We ‘give
someone a black look’ when we want to show them we are angry or displeased with them, maybe because
they have said or done something to upset us. Listen to the idiom in an example.
‘My teacher gave me a black look because I was talking with my friend when he was trying to explain
The second idiom is ‘to tell a white lie’. We ‘tell a white lie’ when
we want to be polite or we don't want to hurt someone's feelings by telling them the truth.
‘Julie asked me if I liked her new hairstyle. I had to tell a white lie and say that I did, but
really I thought it was too short.’
Let's recap on today’s idioms–
‘To give someone a black look’ — ‘menatap seseorang dengan perasaan kesal atau
‘To tell a white lie — ‘berbohong demi kebaikan’
you know that Australians love to travel. They are quite famous for it really. They travel a lot around Australia
AND they also travel a lot overseas. Thousands of Aussies travel right here to Indonesia every year as well. There
are many idioms and slang expressions used when talking about traveling and holidays. Today we have a couple for
you. They are quite common and used by all sorts of Australians.
The first one is ‘catch a plane’ OR ‘catch a bus’ OR ‘catch
a boat’. Now it doesn't mean to catch a plane or a boat because that would be impossible. Too big eh?
It really means to go by or use — ‘naik’ in Bahasa Indonesia.
Sonja: “I leave on Saturday to go to Ayers Rock. First we catch a bus to the airport
and then catch a plane to Alice Springs. We should be at Ayers Rock by this time tomorrow. I am so excited
about this holiday.”
The second travel idiom is jump on board. To jump on board means to get onto or once again to naik something. Listen
to these examples and they should show you what we mean.
Sonja: “We waited until the train stopped at the station and then we jumped on board.
We showed our tickets to the conductor. Then we found our seats and sat down and waited for the train to leave the
Let's recap on today's idioms for you–
‘catch a plane’ — ‘naik’
‘jump on board’ — ‘naik’
Kevin recently chatted with David and Jenelle from Jakarta about their favorite holiday destinations in Australia.
During the conversation they used some idioms that are quite common in Australia.
The first idiom is ‘laze around’. To laze around means to just relax and enjoy a quiet
time. It may mean sitting beside a swimming pool, laying on the beach or just sitting in the garden reading a book.
It means to do nothing — just relax. Here is David to show you how to use it.
David: “But generally speaking we just like to laze around and enjoy life and it's a
very beautiful place.”
Then David's wife used a great idiom — ‘to grab a little bit of time’. To grab a
little bit of time means to find some time to do something special. It is often said like this — grab some
time. But Jenelle used a longer version.
Jenelle: “One of the the tourist destination I have really enjoyed is Jogjakarta. Hrhm we went
to Jogya er partly on an official visit that David had to make. Err But at the same time we were able to grab
a little bit of time and see some of the sights of Jogja.”
David is the Australian Ambassador to Indonesia so I think that relaxing and doing special things is important to
him and his wife, Jenelle.
‘laze around’ — ‘bersantai santai’
‘grab a little bit of time’ OR ‘grab some time’ — ‘mencuri
Two expressions that are very common in Australia. They are all to do with laughing and joking. And we all love
to do that, don't we?
They say that ‘laughter is the best medicine’. But hang on – medicine is usually
sold in a bottle or in a pill – obat ya? So how can laughter be the best medicine? For example we can use
this when we have a friend who is unhappy or sad or perhaps feeling a little depressed. Getting someone to laugh
is one way of helping them to forget their worries and to relax.
Sonja: “I know that things are very difficult for you at the moment. Your best friend has gone
away and you are very sad about that. Laughter's the best medicine you know so let's go and see that funny
new film at the cinema.”
When someone says something that you think is silly or not possible then we can simply say ‘you must
be joking’. In other words you are saying to them that their idea or suggestion is just silly and even
a little ridiculous. The pronunciation is important here so listen carefully to the way that Sonja uses the expression.
Sonja: “My 10 year old son asked me if I could buy him a Honda motorbike. He wanted it so that
he could use it to go to school. I just answered you must be joking, you are far too young to have a motorbike
and anyway where would I get the money from to buy it?”
‘laughter is the best medicine’ — ‘membuat orang senang dengan tertawa’
‘you must be joking’ — ‘bercanda atau bergurau saja’
We have two idioms using the word ‘win’. These are quite common idioms and if you start to use them
then people will really be surprised and impressed.
The first one is ‘stand to win’. We use this idiom when there is a strong possibility that
if you do something then you will surely be successful. It sometimes refers to money but not always.
‘Tell your friend to enter the competition. It is easy and if he does he stands to win some
fantastic prizes from KGRE.’
Here is another example for you.
‘The famous singer stands to win a lot of new fans if she visits Bali to sing at the special
concert for World Peace in June.’
The second idiom today is to ‘win hands down’. We use this idiom to describe how someone
or something has won a contest or competition very easily indeed. Let's use it in the past tense today and I hope
that the meaning is clear to you in this example.
‘She won the contest hands down. She knew all the answers to the questions and the other contestants
were just not good enough.’
‘stands to win’ — ‘punya kesempatan untuk menang’
‘won hands down’ — ‘menang mutlak’
These idioms were sent in by Achmad Tibyani from Brebes in Central Java. Thanks for these Achmad and I hope we can
explain them for you.
The first one is ‘came across’. Well Achmad we use this idiom if we want to say that we
discovered something or found something unexpectedly.
‘I was looking through some old family photo albums at my mum's house and I came across an old
photograph of me when I was a baby. I had never seen that photograph before and it was quite a surprise really.’
But Achmad, the idiom came into has an unusual meaning as well. We use ‘came into’ if we
are talking about good fortune especially when talking about money. It is a way to say we received something a little
unexpectedly as well.
‘Yes that is true, I did buy a new car last week. I came into some money. My auntie died and
left me quite a lot of money to me in her will. Great, eh?’
First of all I want to thank all the listeners that wrote to us saying how much they enjoyed the Indonesian idioms
last year. And who can ever forget the idioms given to us by PADI — great stuff and a bit different, eh?
Today we are back to English idioms and today they have to do with dryness.
‘Dry as a chip’ and ‘dry as a bone’ mean the same thing really.
If we want to say that something is really dry then we can use these two idioms.
‘The river has no water in it all because of the drought. It hasn't rained in a year and the river is as dry
as a chip or as dry as a bone.’
These idioms can also be used when talking about food for example.
‘Didn't enjoy eating that fish very much last night. It was cooked too long and was very dry. It was as dry
as a chip.’
Now the third idioms today is a funny one but Aussies are using it a lot during the current drought. Here it is–
‘It is so dry in the country areas that trees are chasing the dogs.’
Can you see what's funny here? Well, dogs usually look for trees if they want to go to the toilet, right? In a bad
drought they say that the trees need water so bad that THEY chase the dogs. Get it? A funny one there for you to
‘dry as a chip’ / ‘dry as a bone’ AND ‘it is so dry
in the country areas that trees are chasing the dogs’ all mean that there isn't any water at all. It
is dry to the extreme — ‘sangat kering’.
Our first idioms today is ‘jalan tikus’. Well, if we want to go somewhere and we do not
want to use the main roads or the most direct way then we often go by ‘jalan tikus’. In
English this is the ‘back way’ or through the ‘back streets’ or
the ‘back way’.
“The traffic was very bad yesterday, or macat, so the taxi driver went the back way or the
back streets — lewat jalan tikus to the school.’
Our second Indo Idiom is ‘kurus kering’. If we want to say that somebody is very, very
thin or skinny we say they are ‘kurus kering’.
‘My new boyfriend is very strong but is really skinny — kurus kering. He needs to eat more
‘jalan tikus’ or the ‘back way’ or the ‘back streets’
‘kurus kering’ means ‘skinny’
We have two idioms today from Australian Development Scholarship students
studying here at IALF Bali. They were very happy to help KGRE with these idioms.
The first one is air ‘mata buaya’. In English this is ‘crocodile tears’.
We use this idioms when we want to say that someone may be crying but they are not really upset. They are crying
but just for effect or for show — the tears are not real at all.
‘They were just crocodile tears. She wanted people to take notice of her and she used crying
to get their attention. They weren't real tears at all.’
The next Indonesia idiom is ‘menjaring angin’. According to Gunawan who lives in Jalan
Gambiran 3 Yogyakarta it means a useless activity, an activity that means nothing and is of no use. In English we
might say the activity ‘is like selling ice to the Eskimos’. In other words a useless activity
and pointless to the extreme. Thanks for your entry in our idioms competition Gunawan. A KGRE T-shirt is on the
way to you soon.
‘She spent all day trying to teach her cat to sit down. A dog maybe, but not a cat. Doing that is like
trying to sell ice to the Eskimos or ‘menjaring angin’.
‘mata buaya’ or ‘crocodile tears’
‘menjaring angin’ or ‘like trying to sell ice to the Eskimos’
These idioms come from a KGRE listener and his name is Rahmayani Silalahi from Siantar in North Sumatra.
The first one is ‘kawin lari’. It means taking the girl away because they have no consent
from their parents or they want to break the tradition or they hind the high cost of marriage.
‘Their parents would not consent or say yes to the wedding so the two people decided to elope (‘kawin
lari’). They ran away.’
The second one is ‘mak comblang’. This refers to a person who likes trying to arrange marriages
or relationship for others.
‘As it is very hard to get a lady, the forty year old man decided to ask the matchmaker (‘mak
comblang’) to look for a partner for him.’
‘elope’ — ‘kawin lari’
‘matchmaker’ — ‘mak comblang’
These idioms are from Rahmayani Silalahi in Sumatera Utara.
The first one is ‘kambing hitam’. In English it means ‘scapegoat’.
If someone, who is innocent, gets the blame for something that has happened then we say they are being used as a
scapegoat. As Rahmayani says the authorities often makes the university students the scapegoat, when the real cause
of the problems maybe something else.
The second idioms is ‘demam panggung’ or in English ‘stage-fright’.
I someone is really scared about being on stage or in a show then they often experience stage-fright or ‘demam
panggung’. Stage-fright often occurs just before they person is due to appear on stage in front of
She is just too nervous to sing right now. Maybe later but at the moment she is suffering from stage-fright.
Let's wait until she calms down a bit, okay?
‘kambing hitam’ — ‘scapegoat’
‘demam panggung’ — ‘stage-fright’
Indonesian Idioms from PADI
PADI is a well known music group here in Indonesia but of course you already know that, don't you? Well recently
I met with the boys in Jakarta and a part of our interview was talking about Indonesian Idioms. Here are the boys
The first idiom is from Ari
I like the idiom, it in Indonesia is called ‘tikus kantor’. It means a thief. Maybe
in our country right now is we have a lot of corrupters. They eat, bite everything including people's money, tax
So the first idiom from PADI is ‘tikus kantor’ —
a thief or troublemaker. The next ones are from Rindra and Piyu.
‘Kutu loncat’. You know — bugs in your hair. Kutu loncat it means a man or person
who takes advantage of a situation —
‘Bajing loncat’. Bajing loncat is squirrel. Squirrels always jump everywhere. In Indonesia
it is called bajing loncat and it means thief. When there is a truck or something that carries goods, they jump
to the truck and they steal. They steal everything jumping to everywhere to every truck. ‘Bajing loncat’.
Idioms Story in the
August 2002 KGRE magazine
‘Jacko and his mate Bluey lived way out woop woop. Their house was well off the beaten
track and in the middle of the outback. The closest town was 350 km away and the closest city, Adelaide,
was over 1100 km to the south. Jacko and Bluey worked as stockmen and spent most of their day in the saddle.
They often rode for days and days way out beyond the black stump. They loved their work but often longed
for the city and the bright lights. One disadvantage of living out back of Bourke was that entertainment
was scarce. Both of them often wanted to party on. Another was the weather. It was pretty well always stinkin'
hot and very dry. Way out yonder in no man's land had its benefits though. Peace
and quiet were certainly two of them.’
Show 3502 — Idioms Inggris — using the word ‘gold’
An easy idiom today about gold — ‘as good as gold’.
We use this idiom if we want to say that something or someone is very good. It may be a machine or an animal for
example that is reliable and trustworthy. Perhaps it could be used to describe somebody who is very well behaved
or reliable. Here are two examples for you.
‘The old car is still going well and the engine is as good as gold. It is very reliable indeed.’
‘My littler son is really great and now and he's as good as gold when we travel in the car. No
problems at all.’
‘as good as gold’ — ‘bagus sekali atau bisa diandalkan’
An Idioms Story Explained Pt. 1
Many listeners have asked us to talk about it more and explain some of the idioms used. So here we go. You can also
see this story on the KG website.
‘Steve is as happy as a cat in a cream factory because his wife has just given birth to a little
ankle biter. His new son is a little ripper of a kid and Steve is thrilled to the back
teeth. He already has three daughters and now he has a son as well. Steve is of course over the moon.
Last night Steve went down to the local rubbiddy for a few beers with his mates. They all congratulated
him and drank to the good health of the new baby.’
‘happy as a cat in a cream factory’ means very, very happy
‘little ankle biter’ means a little baby or child
‘little ripper’ means the child is fantastic, really great
‘thrilled to the back teeth’ means very, very excited and happy
‘over the moon’ also means very, very happy as well
‘rubbidy’ is a name for a pub or a bar
An Idioms Story Explained Pt. 2
Let's look at the idioms used in the second part of the Idioms Story about Steve and his new baby son.
Instead of catching a cab home from the hotel, Steve decided to leg it. It was a cool
evening and he thought the walk would be just what the doctor ordered. His mates told him not to walk
but he said that it would be apples and that he would be as right as rain. It wasn't far
to his house. Steve walked home slowly thinking about his new little son. His new son was healthy and as strong
as a Mallee bull and Steve couldn't stop thinking about him. Everything was looking rosy for
Steve and his family.
‘catching a cab’ means using a taxi OR a cab
‘to leg it’ means to walk or jalan kaki
‘just what the doctor ordered’ means that it was what he really need to relax and to enjoy
himself some more
‘it would be apples’ means everything will be fine, really good
‘as right as rain’ means ‘bagus sekali’
‘strong as a mallee bull’ means very healthy and strong of course
‘looking rosy’ means everything is looking good for the future
Idioms Inggris — using the word ‘stand’
The first one is ‘can't stand it’. We use this idiom if we want to say that we cannot cope
or put up with something any longer. Maybe there are problems or maybe somebody is making things difficult for you.
Then we use this idiom.
‘My brother keeps playing music too loud at night. I cannot study properly. I can't stand it any
longer. It is very bad for me.’
Another idiom using the word stand is ‘stand up and be counted’. Now this is a good one
for you to use. If we want to tell somebody or a group to be strong and to let other people know how they really
feel, then we can tell them to ‘stand up and be counted’.
‘If you really feel that way about the problem then make sure the Headmaster knows how you feel on this subject.
Do not be quiet and shy, stand up and be counted.’
‘You know, sometimes we do have to stand up and be counted —
we have to make sure people know how we feel about something and not just be happy to sit back and be passive.’
‘can't stand it’ — ‘tidak tahan’
‘stand up and be counted’ — ‘berani menukapkan pendapat’
Idioms Inggris — Outback Idioms
The outback is a big place. Australia is a big place. Most of Australia IS outback. Australians like to use idioms
to describe distance. They like to describe just how far things and places are away from somewhere else. Today's
idioms do this very well and in two weeks time we will have some more for you. The first one today is ‘out
woop woop’. We use it when we want to say that something or a place is long way away. Now that may
be 1000 km or just a few hundred kms. Nevertheless in the eyes of the speaker it is a very long way indeed.
‘He lives way out woop woop. The town is really small and only 12 people live there. A bus passes
through once a week and The Flying Doctor visits a few times a year.’
The second idiom used to say that something or some place is far, far way is ‘back of Bourke’.
Bourke is actually a large country town in New South Wales but when this idiom is used it may not be about a place
anywhere near Bourke. It could even be in a different state. Nevertheless it is out ‘back of Bourke’ — a
long way for sure.
‘The people became lost in the outback. They didn't have much water and the temperatures were very hot. Out back
of Bourke the temperatures can reach over 110 degrees Celsius and that is very hot indeed.’
‘out woop woop’ — ‘auh sekali dari kemana mana’
‘out back of Bourke’ — ‘jauh sekali dari kemana mana’
Idioms Inggris — Outback Idioms
The first one for today is ‘off the beaten track’. This is quite common in Australia and
is used to sat that a place is far away from just about everything. It is far from the busy roads and it usually
a quiet place.
‘She lives off the beaten track about 220 kms from here. You have to go by 4 wheel drive to get
there. It will take about 5 hours to get there.’
Our second idiom today is ‘beyond the black stump. It means the same as off the beaten track.
It is just one of the many Aussie idioms that mean a long way away, from everywhere.’
‘Way out beyond the black stump you will find many beautiful places. The Aussie Outback is huge
and those places can be found but will need a lot of time to get there. You will probably be the only person there.
Those places are isolated.’
‘off the beaten track’ — ‘jauh sekali dari kemana mana’
‘beyond the black stump’ — ‘jauh sekali dari kemana mana’
Idioms Inggris — using the word ‘fire’
Today's idioms all use the word fire. The first idiom is ‘fire away’. We use this idiom
when we want to tell someone to begin something. It may be to begin talking, to start playing a game or even to
begin working. In the following example, Steve is invited to start the meeting by being told to ‘fire
‘Thank you all for coming today and as we have a lot of work to do. I think we better get started. Steve is
going to tell us about the future so Steve, fire away!’
The second idiom is ‘all fired up’. We use this idiom to say that we are ready, really
ready to begin something. In fact it also means that we are a little angry or excited about the activity we are
about to begin.
‘I really want to tell people about this problem in our forests. They are being destroyed so fast that I am
worried about their future. I am really fired up on this topic and the sooner we start the better.
I have a lot to say.’
‘fire away’ — ‘ayo mulai’
‘fired up’ — ‘bersemangat’
Idioms Inggris – using the word ‘play’
Idioms today with the word ‘play’ in them. The first idiom is ‘play ball’.
We use this idioms if we want to say that someone is co-operating or helping, even though a little unwillingly perhaps.
‘Steve agreed to play ball even though he wasn't really happy about it. He agreed to help with
organizing the big surprise for his father.’
The second idiom using ‘play’ is ‘play with fire’. If we say someone is playing
with fire we mean that they are being a bit silly and that if they are not very careful they will get into trouble,
maybe even serious trouble.
‘I told Richard that he was playing with fire. If he continued to lie about the money then he
would only get into worse trouble and maybe even jail.’
So there you are, two new and easy to use Idioms that you are sure to hear if you are in Australia. Remember however
that there are hundreds of idioms. To learn them all is impossible – even I don't know them ALL. But if you
listen carefully and learn quite a few then listening will certainly be easier for you in Oz.
‘play ball’ — ‘bekerja sama’
‘playing with fire’ — ‘bermain api’