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In a bind

  • In a bind is an idiom that came into use about 150 years ago. 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 or metaphors, 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 like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. 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 helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the idiom in a bind, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.


     

    To be in a bind means to be in a difficult, awkward, or embarrassing situation. The image is of one who is bound with ropes and cannot move or escape. Most often, the problem that puts one in a bind is monetary, but being in a bind can also be because of scheduling problems or situations one is trying to avoid. The expression in a bind came into use in the 1850s. Expressions with similar meanings are in a jam and in a tight spot.

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    Examples

    Coronavirus: Singaporeans studying in US in a bind after Trump visa curbs (The Straits Times)

    A request for additional fencing at Plummer Family Sports Park may put a committee in a bind. (The Edwardsville Intelligencer)

    Along with that, we have a couple of individuals that have been injured, so that kind of put us in a bind too. (The Odessa American)

    Keeping kids at home for distance learning could slow their educational process and social development, and it certainly puts their parents in a bind. (The Leavenworth Times)


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