Open season

Open season is an idiom that came into use in the early twentieth century. 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 open season, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

Open season describes a period of time in which no holds are barred, when someone or something is open to all types of criticism and attack. For instance, during a political campaign, it may be open season on incumbents–meaning they are more open to attack from opposing forces. The expression open season is taken from the sport of hunting. Most animals that are hunted may be only hunted during regular seasons. When the animals are raising young, the hunting season is generally closed. When the animals may be hunted, it is open season. The idiom open season, to mean a time when all types of criticism and attack may be lodged against something or someone, came into use around 1910.


“It feels to me like an open season and it’s not sometimes a safe place to be in this country for black men and today it’s too much for me.” (The New York Post)

If you’re working with a trans-identified African-American male and not talking about how it’s open season on black trans bodies, if the therapist doesn’t have the understanding of activism and politics around trans identity, if they don’t understand how hard it’s to get your name changed, or get an update at the DMV, then we’re not fully going to be able to be present and help that person. (GQ Magazine)

“If our country and our friends and our partners do nothing in the face of this barbaric act, it sends a message around the world that it’s open season on journalists.” (Reuters)

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