Been around the block

The origin of the idiom been around the block is uncertain. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions that native speakers understand such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, chin up, eye to eye, barking up the wrong tree, hit the nail on the head, kick the bucket, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. We will examine the meaning of the idiom been around the block, where it may have come from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

If someone is described as having been around the block, it means he is experienced, that he has been in a similar situation before, that he has worked on a similar task before, that he has skills acquired in previous similar circumstances. Someone who has been around the block knows what he’s doing. The idiom originated in the 1960s, probably in America, where neighborhoods are organized in blocks, which are squares or rectangles of land with evenly spaced houses. Be careful when you use the term been around the block. In some circumstances, the phrase means the person in question is sexually experienced. This meaning is particularly common in British English.


Owner Josh Beeby has been around the block a few times with his other two über-popular establishments downtown, Trappe Door and Barley’s Taproom. (The Greenville News)

“These guys are just top quality people and players, and then you look and see all the experienced guys who have been around the block.” (The Irish Times)

Most of the those homeowners who’ve been around the block a few times, want the city to upgrade the sewage lines and the utilities to put their lines underground/and or upgrade those that are, before they put in sidewalks. (The Californian)

But, the original has been around the block a time or two and can deal with basically whatever you throw at him. (The Maryville Daily Times)

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