Jumping sharks and dropping mics
A collection of “modern idioms”, phrases that are now a part of our vocabulary at large.
Gareth Carrol presents a collection of "modern idioms", which have become a part of our vocabulary in the past 50 years or so. In most cases, idioms such as "raining cats and dogs", that colour our everyday communication, are deeply rooted in culture and history. However, just like words, new idioms emerge in language, and many have entered our vocabulary through, TV, movies and the internet. These modern idioms can be dated very precisely. Jumping Sharks and Dropping Mics finds the origins of these idioms, and charts their development.
Click on the circles below to see more reviews
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. A fascinating treat for writers, linguists, and lovers of language with a book entirely about idioms with a study of how certain ones stemmed from our "modern" sources of TV and movies (and more), only to become embedded in our language today. This tour provided takes you through some of these phrases and explores why these idioms have become important to our everyday vocab. The primary focus of this book is on the specific idioms that have entered our language in the more recent decades (after the creation of TV catchphrases and movies). As someone who has always appreciated the various tweaks of our language that makes it stand out, it's fun to see deeper exploration on idioms already known and ones that haven't been heard of. The book explores how modern conveniences and extracurriculars have given way to notable phrases and how some shifted in meaning by strange means. An example is how Friends (the show that everyone knows) was given credit with popularizing "the friend zone," "being commando," "being on a break," and a "moo point", along with other major pop culture additions (everyone knows "the Rachel" haircut). Examples of these famous phrases include "Can I phone a friend," "shrimp on the barbie," "not in Kansas anymore," and popular things like "bucket list" and "groundhog's day." We all know these sayings and most have seen where they've been derived from but it's so commonly used that how many really think about where they've come from. Then there are things that have brought so much popularity that made-up languages have been incorporated such as "Star Wars" terminology being highly influential on our language. Delves into phrases we're all familiar with such as Frankenstein's monster, Jekyll and Hyde, the scarlet letter, and any phrase from Alice in Wonderland. There are common phrases we use that perhaps we don't know actually came from such as brave new world (from The Tempest), dead as a doornail (from Henry VI), and break the ice (from Taming the Shrew). What's with the name? Jump the shark means that a TV show (or other entertainment franchise) has run out of ideas that are logical and have resorted to something ludicrous (or completely off base with the reality of the show) in an attempt to bolster ratings. Nuke the fridge (coming from "Indiana Jones") is another way of saying "jump the shark" though with a more unique twist on it. ~ LM Konkel-Dixon (Reviewer), NetGalley
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. This is a great, well-researched collection of modern day idioms and their origins. I chose to read this book as a change of pace from fiction and it served the purpose well. It was fascinating to read the deep dive origin stories of so many phrases that have become standard for us, yet I’d never thought to consider how they came into mainstream use. The author’s passion for the subject is evident throughout. Each topic and idiom has been methodically traced as far back as possible which must have been a pain staking effort as the majority originated before all content went online. I enjoyed that one idiom often linked back to the history of another discussed in an earlier chapter, attention directed when there has been mis-crediting of an idiom’s origin, and the fun and sometimes whimsical reasons certain phrases actually take hold and gain global popularity. ~ Lisa van Kreuningen (Reviewer), NetGalley
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. British-centric and a whole lot of fun… Do you ever wonder where the words and phrases you use all the time actually came from? Who said them? How did they become part of the everyday vocabulary? Wonder no more as the author takes you on a whirlwind journey of time and space… Well, perhaps not space, but he hit many of the more reachable places. Digging into TV and film, sports and pop culture, their birth and history of so many of the catch phrases I know, love and use (and some brand new) were explained. In a conversational style, each idiom was brought to life in bite-size snippets easy to consume and enjoy. And I did just that. If you love language and digging into the ‘why’, you will enjoy it too. ~ Diane Radtke (Reviewer), NetGalley
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. British-centric and a whole lot of fun. Do you ever wonder where the words and phrases you use all the time actually came from? Who said them? How did they become part of the everyday vocabulary? Wonder no more as the author takes you on a whirlwind journey of time and space… Well, perhaps not space, but he hit many of the more reachable places. Digging into TV and film, sports and pop culture, their birth and history of so many of the catch phrases I know, love and use (and some brand new) were explained. In a conversational style, each idiom was brought to life in bite-size snippets easy to consume and enjoy. And I did just that. If you love language and digging into the ‘why’, you will enjoy it too. ~ Diane Radtke (Reviewer), NetGalley
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Jumping sharks and dropping mics is a book that discusses the origins of certain well-known English idioms. For someone with an interest in linguistics, I thought this was well-thought-out and executed. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and I can't wait to read potentially the second volume with some more idioms (if another ever comes out). ~ Cecile Letourneur (Reviewer), NetGalley
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars - 4★. “In some ways, memes are the Internet version of idioms. They emerge, often in response to a particular event or from a particular subculture, and slowly but surely make their way around the world (virtually, at least).” Memes, expressions, idioms, these are the colourful words and phrases that have infiltrated the English language from slang and various fields of entertainment. The author has divided them into sections, including TV, film, internet, sport, and literature. Many are obvious and commonplace, like "moving the goalposts" or "not rocket science". Some are unfamiliar (to me, anyway), "omnishambles" or "hairdryer treatment". Some are familiar and quite new, "wardrobe malfunction" and "OK, boomer". He writes a short description of the background and meaning and where we’re likely to find these phrases. Advertising has been responsible for many: "does what it says on the tin" (slogan for Ronseal, UK manufacturer), and movies for others: "You’re gonna need a bigger boat" (“Jaws”). I had never heard hairdryer treatment (perhaps I should get out more?), so as an example of his explanations, I’ll share this one. “The hairdryer treatment: ‘To shout forcibly and directly at someone whilst telling them off.’ Sir Alex Ferguson managed Manchester United from 1986 to 2013, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most successful domestic football managers in the history of the English game. Several phrases have been attributed to him . . . either directly or indirectly. One such example is the ‘hairdryer treatment’, which derives from his habit of showing his displeasure at a poor performance by shouting at players with such ferocity that it was like having a hairdryer blasted into their faces. . . Myth or not, the idea is now a common way to describe the approach of coaches (in football and other sports) who favour a ‘tough love’ approach.” That was a new one to me. Others I’m familiar with, like "drink the Kool-Aid" or "Catch-22", are explained for those who don’t know where they came from. Here’s one that has become more popular recently, but “(Judy Garland nonchalantly tossed away her microphone as she walked off stage after performing on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1965)”. Mind you, she wasn’t making the kind of “so there!” statement that later hip-hop performers, rappers, and comedians began making with a “triumphalist air”. “DROP THE MIC/MIC DROP: ‘An expression of triumph at the end of a speech or performance; an impressive action that has a show-stopping effect.’ Dropping the mic is an action by a performer to signal that what had been said or done is so impressive that no follow-up or response is required, or would even be worth listening to.” It’s an easy read, with some curious history of how our language evolves. I’d like to say in defence of the young people who dismiss elders with “OK, Boomer” that these are the same young people we have often dismissed with “OK, Kid”, meaning “that’s about enough out of you, thanks.” This is one to put on the shelf with your other curious collectibles. Good fun. Thanks to NetGalley and John Hunt Publishing. ~ Pat McKelvey (Reviewer), NetGalley
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. Did you ever wonder where the from "Jumping Sharks" comes from? Well, then this is definitely the book for you! This book is FULL of fun facts that you can amaze your family & friends with . I enjoyed reading this book and learning the interesting things that are here! ~ Terri Ladage Randolph (Reviewer) , NetGalley
Written upon the back of the spark of an idea back when Carroll had begun working at the University of Birmingham in 2016, Jumping Sharks and Dropping Mics: Modern Idioms and Where They Come From is a short, yet compressively written fact-finding mission on where these now taken-for-granted idioms (no matter how ludicrous they sound when spoken aloud) came from and how they have taken on life ever since. As for the one most prominently at hand, as I think we all know by now, the idiom jumping the shark was coined in 1985 by Jon Hein in response to a 1977 episode from the fifth season of the American sitcom Happy Days, in which Fonzie (Henry Winkler) quite literally jumps over a shark while on water-skis! Having gathered so many more of these over the years - such as Nudge nudge, wink wink, The 64,000 dollar question, Starter for Ten, All singing, all dancing, Bunny boiler, Know where the bodies are buried, and both Break the internet and Drink the Kool-Aid, amongst a whole slew of others - this book fills in all those blanks in our heads about their origins, whilst at the very same time giving us the fuel for a quiz night of our own! My own personal favourite here is Trigger’s Broom = Something that is claimed to be the same despite extensive modifications, which one might assume was wholly based on the hit UK comedy TV show Only Fools & Horses (1981-2003), but has much deeper reasoning for being. You see, Trigger’s Broom is actually a modernization of a philosophical thought experiment, most commonly referred to as the ship of Theseus. I won’t go into the entire mythological explanation, but suffice to say that it shines a whole new light on that particular OFAH episode, trust me! FULL REVIEW: https://annecarlini.com/ex_books.php?id=298 ~ Exclusive Magazine, Review
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. I enjoyed this book and learning the modern idioms in our language. It is UK-based so there are some idioms I have never heard. Nevertheless, I enjoyed learning new words/sayings. ~ Audrey Adamson (Reviewer) , NetGalley
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Jumping Sharks and Dropping Mics – what a great title! Gareth Carrol is a senior lecturer and researcher at the University of Birmingham in England, and has long been fascinated by idioms – what they are, where they came from, what they mean. Thanks to John Hunt Publishing and NetGalley I received a copy of this book in exchange for this honest review. Professor Carrol has a sense of humor as well as serious knowledge. This will be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in language, culture, and entertainment. Note that it is more centered on British language, but still interesting. ~ Stephanie Tetter (Librarian), NetGalley
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. It's a really interesting read its fun and witty and gives a lot of information to some really common and so not so common idioms and finding out the back story to some of these well-loved sayings was really fascinating. This was a quick, enjoyable, educational read and I even learned some stuff along the way, I would really recommend this book. ~ Katie Bennett (Reviewer), NetGalley
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. This was a fun and fascinating read! Common idioms and expressions are traced back to their roots in entertainment, sports, etc. and their cultural impact is explored. This is written for a UK audience, so as a US reader it was doubly interesting to see what expressions are shared and to learn the backstory behind unfamiliar phrases. This would be a fun pick for word nerds and pop culture enthusiasts! ~ L Gage (Educator) , NetGalley
Full Text: As a reviewer who has taught English idioms to more than a dozen foreign exchange students who have lived in my home for a year, I was drawn to Gareth Carrol’s Jumping Sharks and Dropping Mics: Modern Idioms and Where They Come From. A senior lecturer and researcher in linguistics at the University of Birmingham, Carrol includes a few unfamiliar idioms taken from British TV or cricket, but he includes much for readers across the pond. Beginning with an introductory chapter on the nature of idioms in general, he then classifies idioms according to their sources-- idioms from television, movies, Internet, sports, modern literature, and, finally, “the best of the rest.” Whether explaining his titular idioms or a wide assortment of others such as “sleep with the fishes,” “you’re gonna need a bigger boat,” “first world problems,” “Sophie’s Choice,” “not rocket science,” or “watercooler moment,” Carrol defines the idiomatic meaning, gives examples of its usage, and traces each expression’s origin, frequently going beyond the more obvious origin to suggest other possibilities. For readers interested in Carrol’s sources, he includes a chapter-by-chapter list. Whether you are a teacher, word nerd, or history or trivia lover, Gareth Carrol will teach and entertain you. Likely, you will share at least part of what you have learned with family and friends. ~ Sue Attalla (Reviewer) , NetGalley
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Who knew that so many terms and phrases from books, film and life in general have slowly bled into common parlance so seamlessly we almost can't remember where they came from! Linguistics and the way slang and typical phrases change over the years is a fascinating and surprisingly broad subject, Carrol has managed to condense the best and most curious examples into a genuine and entertaining read. I've had great fun with friends and colleagues, trying to see how many we remember and reminding ourselves where they've come from. ~ Ace Coggins (Bookseller), NetGalley
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. A very interesting book exploring some of the well known idioms in our British language, although a few I wasn’t as aware of! This really is a great book for anyone who has an interest in language and the history and development of such things. Definitely something to get for the ultimate grammatical nerd out! ~ Sharley Brown (Reviewer), NetGalley
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. A thoroughly enjoyable book looking at how certain idioms came to be. I also learnt some new ones. The perfect book to either read cover to cover or to dip in and out as and when it takes your fancy. ~ Caroline Hollis (Reviewer), NetGalley
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Loved reading about the origins of idioms I hear often. Would recommend this book for most anyone. Just know it is written by a brit, so if that style doesn't work for you, this may not either. ~ Kady Burns (Reviewer), NetGalley
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. This book is sooooooo interesting and listed a lot of phrases that I use all the time, some without even realizing where they come from. I can’t wait to drop one of these facts into conversation and humble brag about all my knowledge! ~ Gillian Wright (Reviewer) , NetGalley
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Gareth Carrol’s Jumping Sharks and Dropping Mics is an entertaining read. Carrol provides background information with several sources on modern usage. The book is well researched. ~ Emily Posedel (Librarian), NetGalley
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. Brilliant! Fun and witty with all the background detail of where those idioms began. Lots of TV, film and modern culture references, really enjoyed dipping in and out of this. Especially enjoyed discussing parts of this with my son who has autism, he can sometimes take things literally and struggle to understand what people mean when they use certain phrases. Had some great chats about when we might apply some of these idioms and learned a lot! Ideal for those who love language, great to dip in and out of. We made a quick family quiz out of some of the facts, Great gift for the curious, really interesting and useful book, highly recommend! ~ Martha Reads Books (Reviewer), NetGalley
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Ever wondered why people say 'Ten four' or what is exactly meant by a 'Keyboard Warrior'? If so, then look no further because Gareth Carrol has all the answers you need. Short but sweet, Jumping Sharks and Dropping Mics is an exploration into the wonderful world of the modern idiom. Divided into several chapters, Carrol follows the origins of idioms from sports and the silver screen to idioms from modern literature and the online world. Well-researched and highly entertaining, you will come away from this book with a new-found understanding of English language's most popular sayings and gain some new idioms for your own everyday use. If you are interested in etymology or are simply curious about the English language and how idioms work, Jumping Sharks and Dropping Mics is the perfect addition to your bookshelf. ~ Jessica Crawford (Reviewer), NetGalley
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. This is an excellent book for use in classes with students particularly English Language lessons where you can learn where sayings are derived from. Plenty of good examples to keep students interested. Equally good conversation pieces for family get together. ~ RACHEL GARLICK (Educator), NetGalley
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. What a great resource! This book explains idioms: their meaning, origin, and uses. The book features idioms from television, movies, the internet, sports, modern literature, and a miscellaneous section entitled, “The Best of the Rest.” For example, in the literature section, we learn about a “catch-22,” which comes from the novel of the same name by Joseph Heller (1961). Readers learn what the phrase means, a bit about the novel, and modern uses of the term, such as the “Brexit Catch-22.” This book, as I mentioned, is a great resource for “word nerds” like me, teachers, language arts students, and writers. I highly recommend it! ~ Bobi Page (Educator), NetGalley
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. So many of the idioms in here I was not aware of where they came from. I kept driving my family nuts saying "did you know where _________ originated?". I enjoy books like this with information that you can drop into conversations later. ~ Vicky Zblewski (Educator), NetGalley
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. If you have a curiosity about every day language, or have a love for wanting to know why we say what we say, then this book on modern idioms is the place to go.........The book is an interesting mixture of Internet related, book related, TV related and movie related sayings. Written from a British perspective, there are a few I have never heard of, but most have become universal. Very enjoyable to either read straight through, or to jump from expression to expression to see from whence it came. ~ Laura Testa-Reyes (Reviewer) , NetGalley
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. A decidedly British take on idioms and sayings that we all use often, as well as quite a few interesting ones that you’ve probably never heard. This was a quick, enjoyable, educational, read that was quite interesting. If you’re a word nerd, I would definitely recommend this book. ~ Sharyn Berg (Educator) , NetGalley
When this book appeared in NetGalley, my interest was peaked as I'm often one to use phrases (which I later learned were called idioms) without knowing their origins. This light-hearted read not only delves into the stories as to the roots of these strange lexicons we use but also gives you one or two that you might have never heard of. At times I did feel as if the history was a bit too detailed (arguably 'overegged the pudding' - an idiom in itself) but an enjoyable read nonetheless. A perfect gift for that annoying person in your life who wants to pause you mid-conversation to ask you "do you know why we say that?" or someone for whom English isn't their first language - just to prove their struggles in grasping why 'a spade is called a spade' isn't just theirs. ~ Jonathan Isaacs (Reviewer), NetGalley
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. I’m very pleased to be the first person to rate and review this lovely guide to modern idioms. It’s absolutely worth checking out, especially if you love words and the way they come together to sometimes say something completely different than the sum of the individual components of the sentence would suggest. This book was exactly the sort of engaging etymological guide to idiom that nay word nerd can…well, nerd out over. It’s light and fun and gallops through different modern mediums, from books to tv to sports to present the readers with origins for the popular (and some not so popular) sayings. It is heavily skewed in British direction, but a good idiom is a good idiom, irrespective of its place of origin. I actually learned some new ones, including the titular one, which sounds like some kind of a great surfing adventure but actually refers to the time when a quality of creative work drops down in and the creators behind it get desperate, this is most popularly used for tv shows, when their makers resort to drastic measures to revive public interest in them. For that and more, check out this book. It’s etymology lite, informative and entertaining, without ever getting bogged down by pedantism or taking itself too seriously. It’s also charmingly slim, so it goes by like a proper quick fun without ever overstaying its welcome. Things were learned. Fun was had. The amateur linguist in me was delighted. Recommended. https://advancetheplot.weebly.com/ ~ Mia D (Reviewer), NetGalley
An absolute delight: I wish I'd written it myself! The range of applications in new contexts is second to none. It blends etymology, social history and current usage, bringing together a wealth of British and American examples. ~ David Crystal, author of The Stories of English, Let’s Talk, How Language Works, and many more books on language.
Who knew there were so many modern idioms? Gareth Carrol has brought the idiom dictionary up to date and assembled a light-hearted and informative treasure trove of expressions that we may well know, but whose origin we might not have thought about. I've learnt so much from this book, which is sure to extend any reader’s knowledge of the English language. ~ Alison Wray, Professor of Language and Communication, Cardiff University, UK
Smart, funny and crammed full of fascinating facts. The perfect book for word nerds everywhere. ~ Gavin Extence, author of The Universe Versus Alex Woods.
Gareth Carrol gives us an expert's tour of the hotspots where popular culture meets etymology. A rich dive into the wheres, whys, and hows of linguistic memes. ~ Lynne Murphy, author of The Prodigal Tongue and Professor of Linguistics, University of Sussex, UK
Confronting what we take for granted in what we read, hear, write and say is not an easy job, but this book does it with precision. The devil, as they say, is in the detail, and the inherent charm of the English language's near-countless set pieces is forensically - but affectionately - laid bare. The highlights are the quirks of the sporting lexicon - from hairdryers to squeaky bum time - the examinations of which will make more than a few football writers question the world they live in. ~ Adam Hurrey, author of Football Clichés.