Drag one’s feet and drag one’s heels are two forms of a particular idiom. 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 idioms drag one’s feet and drag one’s heels, where they may have come from, and some examples of their use in sentences.
To drag one’s feet or to drag one’s heels means to procrastinate, to put off something unpleasant, to do something reluctantly, to do something without enthusiasm. The idiom drag one’s feet or drag one’s heels conjures the image of someone walking slowly, shuffling or scuffing his heels to avoid doing something or to delay doing something for as long as possible. The phrase drag one’s feet is used much more often than drag one’s heels. These idioms came into use in the 1940s. Related phrases are drags one’s feet or drags one’s heels, dragged one’s feet or dragged one’s heels, dragging one’s feet or dragging one’s heels.
At the DIA board meeting, Stanly said he agreed with the board’s move to set a policy on unsolicited bids, but urged the DIA not to “drag your feet.” (The Jacksonville Daily Record)
So even if you’ve dragged your feet in the past, you can go back and start the process to claim the cash. (Detroit Free Press)
With that kind of baggage, maybe it’s not surprising that you dragged your heels on giving a state of the city address, Mayor Brandvold, for three years, with lame excuses and no good reason. (The Modesto Bee)
“We need the minister to stop dragging his heels and show some leadership by implementing the banned drinkers register, together with the comprehensive wrap-around services needed to support those with alcohol misuse issues.” (The West Australian)