Combing or looking through the headlines can be tough, especially with the complexity of some of the expressions that are used and the limited amount of time we have for keeping up with the news. Here are some explanations for words taken right out of recent news stories.

Divvy Up – to divide something such as money, profits, work, etc. Sometimes there’s a lot of work to be done on a project, so it’s best to “divvy up” the tasks so everyone can help out.

Carve out some time – To make time to do something. Life is pretty fast paced these days, so we have to make a point of “carving out time” to spend with our family and friends.

Burn the candle at both ends – To be very busy and get little sleep. If you’re burning the candle at both ends you are probably working and going to bed late and then you’re up early the next morning to continue working. This might mean it’s dark both when you fall asleep and when you wake up. Before electricity people probably had to light, and “burn”, a candle to start and end the day. The expression may be old, but we still use it today.

Bellwether – An indicator of what is coming next. We especially look for bellwethers in the economy to give us an idea of what we can expect to happen in the financial markets. It is believed to have originally derived from the lead sheep in a flock that wore a bell around its neck. If you heard the bell, you knew where the sheep was. Similarly, a bellwether can now tell you where the next trend will be found. Have you seen any bellwethers that will show us what will be “in” or “out” in 2019 yet?

Chalk it up to – To attribute or hold responsible. When we use this expression, we are essentially trying to explain the reason for a result. You can “chalk up” your fatigue to burning the candle at both ends and not sleeping enough.

Enter the fray – To join a competition or argument. This Superbowl Sunday thousands will enter, or join, the fray as they make bets on which team will win.

Have you found other expressions difficult to decipher? Let us know in the comments below and we will include them in future blog posts.


Written by Fleur Isabelle Stewart, English expert at Primera

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