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Feather one’s nest

  • Feather one’s nest is an idiom that has been in use for hundreds of years. 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 feather one’s nest, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.


     

    To feather one’s nest means to enrich oneself. Usually, the idiom is used when someone is taking advantage of a situation or is appropriating what is not actually theirs to take. However, one may speak of feathering one’s nest when referring to accumulating wealth for later, especially for retirement. The expression feather one’s nest came into use in the mid-1500s and is based on the fact that birds tend to line their nests with feathers to make a warm, safe place for their eggs and hatchlings. Related phrases are feathers one’s nest, feathered one’s nest, feathering one’s nest.

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    Examples

    Speaking to The Indian Express at his Moti Bagh Palace residence, Amarinder said he was not fighting from Lambi for symbolism but with a purpose: “to teach Badal a lesson for having feathered his nest”. (The Indian Express)

    Where, if all goes well for her in the next weeks and she’s allowed to retain access to the money that the couple has reportedly secreted in Switzerland and elsewhere, she’ll still just be able to feather her nest with plenty of luxury shopping. (Forbes Magazine)

    The game you are supposed to play in British politics is feathering your nest by feathering the nests of others. (The Guardian)


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