Friday 9 September 2011

Idiom & Slang: Colors, Tool, Lightning & Sexy!

Got a nice question from student Lim last week, and it is nice to share with everyone.

In Chinese, "show some colours to you" means "let you see how good/strong/fierce I really am", in English, there is a similar version, "to show your true colors".

What might be slightly different is that in the English version it means "to reveal the actual personality", which means it can be good or bad.
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Eg 1,
My friend's football team was losing by 2 goals, but just before the end of the match, he showed his true colors and scored twice to earn his team a draw.
Image from

When boys date girls, at first they behave as if they are romance kings, but when they get want, they'll show their true colors.Eg 2,

In the examples above, obviously eg 1 is good and eg 2 is bad.

If you happen to be in the situation in eg. 2, you are screwed!
Image from defenestreime
Screwed is word which is commonly heard in TV, it is slang, and it means to be in serious trouble.
House talking slang with kids
@ House M,D. Season 7 Episode 13
Image from Fox

picked a guy who is three times his own size, he was totally screwed! I'd bolt if I were him.Eg 3,

To pick on someone your own size is the original expression, and it is used when someone is looking for a fight with someone smaller and weaker.

Eg 4,
You want to fight a little primary 5 kid? Go pick on someone your own size!!!

But in eg 3, I modified it to say a smaller guy tried to fight someone bigger and it was stupid to do. So, it would be smarter to bolt.

bolt is not slang in English, but it is slang in Cantonese, and the meaning is exactly the same!!!! Means to escape or run away quickly in a bad situation.

Bolt has many meanings, but the ones that can help you remember, maybe .... Bolt from Jamaica?

Bolt from Jamaica
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... or a lighting bolt
Lightning Bolt
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Next time you see Britney again, you should bolt! She's just toying with your feelings! She's a tease! She doesn't love you!Eg 5,

If a person only enjoys exciting you sexually but never plans to have sex with you, that's a tease! 

Where can we learn these amazing slang? I watched House Season 7 episode 13. You can try other dramas series. That's why I always say, watching TV is also a good way to learn.

to show your true colors -- to reveal the actual personality
screwed -- (adj) (slang) to be in serious trouble; to be in a position that is a result of a problem or bad situation that seems impossible to solve/get out of
pick on someone your own size -- said to someone who wants to fight a person who is smaller than them
bolt -- (vb) [I] to move very fast, especially as a result of being frightened
toy with sb/sth -- phrasal verb to not care seriously about someone or about their feelings, especially during a romantic friendship
a tease -- (n) slang disapproving someone who enjoys causing sexual excitement and interest in people she or he does not intend to have sex with



  1. bolt is is slang in Cantonese? i dont know.. can you tell ? thx !
    Celia =.=

  2. Bolt = lightning. Try lightning in Cantonese without "electricity"