Learn English Idioms with 80s Music
One of the best ways to learn about English idioms is by listening to music. Music isn't just about explaining your ideas, it's about communicating them in a fun, interesting, and sometimes poetic way. Here is a list of four popular songs from the 1980s that have idioms in their titles.
Have you heard these songs before? Do you know what the idioms mean? Native speakers use these expressions all of the time, so understanding what these idioms mean is important for communication. And if you feel comfortable with them, use them yourself!
Take My Breath Away
The idiom "take my breath away" means to be overwhelmed, surprised, or shocked (in a positive way). It can come from something beautiful (The Grand Canyon really took my breath away), something heartwarming (It took my breath away how lovingly the doctor treated me), or something you admire (Her ability to quickly fix a car totally took my breath away).
The song "Take My Breath Away" by Berlin is famous in its own right, but was made even more famous by the movie "Top Gun," starring Tom Cruise. Have you seen it? As a kid, I watched that movie probably about a fifty times (seriously, no exaggeration). Watch the music video here. What do you think about it?
To Bite the Dust
The idiom "bite the dust" means to fail, wreck (a car or bike), or die. It's quite informal, and should not be used in serious situations.
In the song "Another One Bites the Dust," by Queen, they are singing about a gang massacre in the US which occurred in 1929. They are referring to the men who were killed during the attack.
The idiom "true colors" means how someone is in reality, how they are on the inside. It can be used for both positive and negative characteristics.
I thought she was the love of my life, but she revealed her true colors when I got sick and she left me.
She seemed to be a very cold person, but when I got sick, she showed her true colors and nursed me back to health.
In the song "True Colors" by Cindi Lauper, she is using the idiom in a positive way. She is telling the man that he shouldn't be so shy and reserved. Instead, he should let his true colors show.
If you accept someone with "open arms," it means that you welcome them with all of your heart, in an extremely welcoming way. It's like you are opening your arms wide as they walk towards you, ready to give them a hug. And hugs are always a nice way to welcome someone in the US. What about in your culture? How do you greet people socially if you haven't met them before?
I was so happy that my family accepted my girlfriend with open arms.
I wish that all Americans would accept immigrants with open arms.
In the song "Open Arms," by Journey, they are talking about romantic love, and accepting your lover back into your after doing something wrong.
Like most idioms, you don't have to use them. There are always simpler ways to explain things. However, other people (especially native speakers) might use them, so adding them to your passive vocabulary is quite helpful.
What if someone uses an idiom you don't know? Don't worry too much. If someone uses any expression that you don't know, you can always ask them to clarify something. For example, you can say "What do you mean by 'hanging on the edge of your seat'?" if you don't understand it.
Time to Practice!
Practice using these idioms by writing sentences with them:
1 - take my breath away
2 - bite the dust
3 - true colors
4 - open arms
Do you have any other questions about the song or video? Any ideas for songs I should teach in the future? Let me know!
All the Songs!