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Bum steer

  • Bum steer is an idiom that first appeared around the turn of the twentieth century. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase, or phrasal verbs that have a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. These figures of speech or literary devices often use descriptive imagery; common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often colloquialisms or descriptors that are spoken or are considered informal or conversational. An idiom may be a euphemism, an understatement or exaggeration, or an expression of irony or hyperbole. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase or expression 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, bite the bullet, red herring, hit the nail on the head, kick the bucket, blow off steam, jump on the bandwagon, piece of cake, hit the sack, 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. It is possible to memorize a list of idioms, but it may be easier to pay attention to the use of idioms in everyday speech, where peculiar imagery will tell you that the expressions should not be taken literally. We will examine the meaning of the idiomatic term bum steer, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.


     

    A bum steer is bad advice, wrong or misleading information, incorrect directions. The expression bum steer may also refer to an item that is not as good as promised. The idiom bum steer first appeared around the turn of the twentieth century and is still popular in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. The word bum is derived from German-American slang. The word steer, in this case, refers to the act of guiding someone or something, as in steering someone in the right direction. The plural form of bum steer is bum steers.

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    Examples

    A husband-and-wife cattle business claims they got a bum steer from embattled restaurateur Ken Friedman when he stiffed them out of nearly $40,000 in custom butchered beef, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in Manhattan Supreme Court. (The New York Daily News)

    Not all fans got a bum steer on seats last night at Marvel Stadium. (The Herald Sun)

    Lang thinks FEMA has given the village a bum steer. (The Peoria Journal Star)


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