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Make or break and make or mar

  • Make or break and make or mar are idioms. 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. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions such as beating around the bush, ballpark figure, let the cat out of the bag, hit the sack, Achilles heel, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, a dime a dozen, 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 figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. We will examine the meaning of the expressions make or break and make or mar, where they came from and some examples of their use in sentences.


     

    Make or break and make or mar are phrases that mean to bring success or ruin, to bring triumph or failure. Make or break and make or mar are phrases that conjure up absolutes. They describe a situation that will either make someone rich, famous, or otherwise successful, or will break them down into a lowly state. The phrase is sometimes rendered as make it or break it. When used as an adjective before a noun, the terms are rendered with hyphens as make-or-break and make-or-mar. The phrase make or mar is much older, dating from the 1400s. Make or mar is now primarily a British English idiom. The phrase make or break is used primarily in American English and came into popular use in the late 1800s. The earliest known use of the phrase make or break in print was by Charles Dickens in his work Barnaby Rudge, published in 1840.

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    Examples

    This is the make-or-break year for the entire rebuild (The Royals Review)

    Kim, Trump arrive in Hanoi for make-or-break summit (The Korea Times)

    In a recent op-ed for pastors.com, Warren said this “one factor” can actually make or break the ministry God has called couples to: “Being a team sharing a dream can revitalize a marriage, a family, a local church, and ultimately the Kingdom of God,” she said. (The Christian Post)

    The “Regional Solicitation” can be a make-it or break-it process for road projects and transit initiatives, some of which depend on the regional planning agency for the majority of their funding. (The Daily Globe)

    RJD sources had then pointed out that Mayawati was offered a couple of seats in western Bihar which shares border with Uttar Pradesh and where Mayawati’s core constituency, particularly Dalits, could make or mar electoral prospects. (The Deccan Herald)

    Durability and low maintenance are essential attributes that make or mar the living experience. (Business Today)


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