- somebody whose activities are uncommon and out of control
- an uncontrolled person who can cause unintentional damage
- someone who behaves in an unexpected and uncontrolled way and is liable to cause problems
- He was a loose cannon and could not be risked in front of the press.
- I don’t think he’s just a loose cannon, sometimes he really makes sense.
- The candidate turned out to be a loose cannon, and most of the voters could not place their trust on him.
- He was considered to be a loose cannon due to his volatile temper.
- They did not share any secrets with him since he was seen as being something of a loose cannon.
- He is a loose cannon and would not be a good choice for a leader.
The phrase refers to cannons carried by wooden warships in the 17th to 19th century as their primary weapons.
In order to avoid the enormous recoil when fired, these cannons were mounted on rollers and secured with ropes. A cannon that was not thus restrained was called a loose cannon and was considered dangerous.
The phrase first appeared in French in Victor Hugo’s novel “Ninety Three” in 1874. Henry Kingsley’s novel “Number Seventeen” in 1875 refers to Hugo’s phrase and is the first usage in English. Both these citations were in the literal form. The earliest figurative use is from The Galveston Daily News in December 1889.
level playing field
- a situation that is fair to everyone
- where everyone gets the same opportunity
- a situation where everyone has an equal and fair chance of succeeding
- a fair competition, where no advantage is shown to one side
- These set of rules would provide a level playing field to all the competitors and all would have a fair chance of succeeding.
- The politician said in his speech that he wanted to provide for a level playing field to the downtrodden and marginalized sections of the society.
- Even today, women don’t have a level playing field in terms of opportunities to excel and succeed.
- It’s no use competing in that market; you don’t have a level playing field.
- If we start off with a level playing field, everyone would have an equal chance of succeeding.
- Since we don’t have a level playing field, we have to put in extra efforts in order to do well.
This phrase alludes to the fairness required in field games where a slope would clearly be an advantage for one side, for example, football and rugby. Figuratively, it has been used since the late 1900s, with the oldest record found being in 1977 from the Tyrone Daily Herald.
lend me your ear
also lend an ear
- ask for someone’s full attention
- listen to someone carefully
- pay attention to what someone is saying
- listen to someone with understanding
- Lend me your ear and I will tell you about my adventures in the mountains.
- Lend an ear to what I am saying; you might need to know all this when you start working on your project.
- When she was going through tough times, he lent a sympathetic ear to her troubles.
- Stuart lent an ear to the representatives of the worker’s body to understand their problems.
- Could you please lend me your ear for a minute? I need to tell you something really important.
- What I am going to say next is very important for your future with this company. I ask all of you to please lend me your ears for the next few minutes.
- Tracey was a very nice and caring person and would always lend an ear to everyone’s problems.
- Lend me an ear, will you? I need to make sure that you understand what I am saying.
The phrase is first used in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, where Mark Anthony says “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears”.
last but not least
- someone or something that is last in sequence, but not less in importance
- important, despite being mentioned at the end
- emphasizing that the item mentioned last in a list is equal in importance to the others
- as important as other in spite of being listed last
- After the success of his first book, the author thanked his publisher, editor, and, last but not the least, his family.
- That is the best restaurant in town because it has terrific food, a lovely ambiance, and, last but not the least, a great staff.
- Presenting the final speaker at the conference, the host said “And last but not the least, I would like to call upon Mr Smith to express his views.”
- Last but not the least, the final participant at the event came on to showcase his skills.
- At the end of his speech, he concluded by saying “and last but not the least, I thank you, my audience, for having patiently sat through my speech.”
- The new mall has some great stores, good places to eat, and, last but not the least, ample parking space.
The phrase is best known for its use in theatre. The last actor to be introduced was mentioned as being the “last, but the least.” Also it was a common practice to introduce the star of the theatre last. The exact origin is uncertain, but the earleast print reference can be found in John Lyly’s “Euphues and His England” in 1580.
also lose one’s head / lose your head / lost his/her head
- not have control over your emotions
- become very angry or upset and unable to think clearly
- lose control and not act in a calm manner
- behave irrationally and lose self control
- He is usually very calm and does not lose his head in stressful situations.
- He lost his head completely when his wife left him over his drinking habit.
- The project manager lost his head when the project was delayed for the fifth time, this time due to lack of funds.
- When fire broke out in the building, instead of keeping calm, everyone lost their heads and started running helter skelter.
- She did not lose her head when faced with a scary situation and calmly got herself out of it.
- He has a very short temper. He’s always losing his head at the slightest provocation.
- He has been losing his head over the missed opportunity since the past few days.
The phrase alludes to the fact that our emotions, thinking ability and self control are regulated in the head. The exact origin is unclear, however, it was definitely known and in use by the late 19th century.
- a child born out of wedlock
- a child born to parents who are not married to each other
- an illegitimate child
- a child whose father and mother are not married to each other
- The new actress in that movie is rumoured to be the love child of one of the most famous actors of the previous generation.
- A huge scandal broke out when it was discovered that the hit onscreen couple had a love child.
- Betty and Larry’s affair led to a love child, and as a result Betty was spurned by her family.
- As a love child of a famous celebrity, he had it pretty hard during his early days, but in the in the end, he did quite well for himself.
- Charles and Tracy’s short but passionate affair resulted in a love child, whom both of them decided to take care of together.
- The influential leader’s political career came crashing down when the news broke out that he had a love child with one of his junior party members.
- The company director had to step down when it was discovered that he was have an affair with a colleague and even had a love child with her.
This phrase was first used in 1805.
love to death
- love someone very much
- feel extremely strong affection for someone
- love someone all your life, i.e., till you die
- He is prepared to do anything for her, go to any extent. He loves her to death.
- The old woman loved her husband to death. Even when he was no more, she kept his memories alive by keeping his belongings close to her.
- Before they had got married, he had said that he would love her to death, but when the goings got tough, he deserted her.
- “Do you think she is in love with him?” “Oh, didn’t you know? She loves him to death and has been waiting for him since ages, but he is playing hard to get.”
- He loved her to death, and said that he could not stop loving her even when he knew that she had been unfaithful to him.
- She said she was prepared to leave back everything and go with him wherever he went because she loved him to death.
- He had loved her to death, and said that he could not be with any other woman apart from her.
The origin of the idiomatic express is yet not known, but your contribution is required if you’ve any clue.
labour of love
- a task done for the pleasure of doing it, not for gains or rewards
- hard work done because you enjoy doing it
- work done for pleasure or for the benefit of someone you love
- Every morning, he dusted, cleaned and wound up the old grandfather clock that he had inherited as a family heirloom. It was truly a labour of love.
- After his first book was published, the author said in an interview that he had greatly enjoyed writing it, and that it was a labour of love.
- The famous painter gifted his most beautiful painting to his wife, saying that it was a labour of love and was not for sale.
- He loved his garden and maintained it with great care. It was a real labour of love and it was a pleasure watching him work in the garden.
- It took him years to refurbish his ancestral house and make it liveable again, but in the end he did it and it was true labour of love.
- The aquarium he built for his wife was a labour of love, and she loved to sit in front of it and watch the fishes.
This phrase originated in the Bible and first appears in the King James Version (KJV) also known as the Authorized Version, which is the English translation of the Bible, written from 1604 to 1611.
leave at the altar
- decide not to marry someone at the very last moment
- decide not to marry someone just before the wedding
- Judy was devastated when her fiance did not turn up for their wedding and left her at the altar.
- A few days before his wedding date, James started feeling extremely nervous and finally decided to leave his girlfriend at the altar.
- Your wedding is just a week away, don’t you get cold feet now. You don’t want to leave your partner at the altar, do you?
- You realize now, so close to your wedding date, that you still have feelings for your ex? What are going to do about Ron now? Will you leave him at the altar?
- After having being left at the altar for the second time, he decided never to think about marriage again.
- Sue had been very excited about her best friend’s wedding, but it turned out to be disaster when the groom left her friend at the altar.
- Think about whether you are ready for marriage yet. You should not say yes to him now and later leave him at the altar because you were not sure.
The origin of the phrase is not known.
let your heart rule your head
- do something based on emotions rather than logic
- act according to what you feel rather than what is sensible
- do something because you want to, rather than for practical reasons
- let your emotions control your sense of reasoning
- I think it would be unwise for you to be in a relationship with him; he is a known womanizer. Don’t let your heart rule your head.
- I know he is not rich and does not have much social status, but he loves you and cares for you a lot, so for this one time, I would say let your heart rule your head; you’ll be glad you did.
- Most romantic movies and stories paint this rosy picture about love and tell you that all will be well if you let your heart rule your head, but the reality is quite the opposite in most cases.
- I had warned him that he would suffer if he let his heart rule his head, but he was too enamoured by her charm then; and now that she’s left him, he’s completely broken.
- Sometimes, it pays off to ignore all logic and let your heart rule your head.
The origin of this phrase is not known.