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Heads will roll

  • Heads will roll is an idiom. 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 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. 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, beat a dead horse, hit the nail on the head, kicked 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 phrase heads will roll, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.


     

    Heads will roll is a declaration or prediction that people who are responsible for a failure or a catastrophe will be punished or will suffer the consequences. Heads will roll means that the guilty or responsible parties will be determined and punished or held accountable. The idiom heads will roll is often used to mean that people who have failed at a business endeavor will be fired. The origin of the expression is unclear; it has been in use since at least the 1800s. However, the popularity of the phrase heads will roll is attributed to Adolf Hitler: ” Then decapitated heads will roll in the sand.” The use of the expression heads will roll spiked sharply in the 1940s. The imagery associated with heads will roll is of decapitation, whether from the blow of an axe, sword, or the guillotine.

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    Examples

    According to Julius Malema, heads will roll: “The school in particular should be held accountable. ” (The South African)

    It resulted in their head coach getting fired midseason and I expect the Seminoles to be back in the national conversation in the next three years or heads will roll again. (The Providence Journal)

    Fowler addressed his disappointment with Wil Myers’ offense and Eric Hosmer’s defense, said “heads will roll, beginning with mine” if the team does not begin to have success in 2020 and apologized profusely for an “embarrassing” 2019. (The San Diego Union-Tribune)


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