Did you know that a lot of English idioms and proverbs we use today come from the Bible? No one can know for sure exactly how many translations of the Bible exist, but the first major translation into English was by John Wycliffe in the 14th century. Since then, Biblical words and phrases have made their way into common use. The following idioms, expressions and proverbs come from The King James Version.
Often, when a machine breaks down or a person gives up, we say that they “…bit the dust”. This is believed to have come from the book of Psalms 72:9 “They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust.” (KJV)
Here are some more examples using this idiom.
When an unskilled person attempts to teach a skill to another unskilled person, we often call this “The blind leading the blind.” This is most likely from Matthew 15:13-14 “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” (KJV)
Here is an example using this idiom.
Even the expression, “broken heart”, a term we use when someone is deeply saddened, often due to a failed romantic conquest, is believed to be Biblical in Origin. Psalms 34:18 “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit” (KJV)
Let’s try it in a couple of examples.
When a person just barely succeeds, coming very close to failure, we might say he succeeded “…by the skin of his teeth”, a term used in the book of Job 19:20 “My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.” (KJV)
You could use this expression in such cases as the following:
These are just a few examples of the many idioms we use regularly in English that are taken from the Bible. Learning new words and phrases from many different sources, such as films, books, poems, music, or even the Bible can add flavor to your language and make you a more interesting and eloquent speaker. The most important thing is to enjoy speaking English and learning new ways to express yourself. Happy Studying!