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Out of the woods

  • Out of the woods is an idiom with roots that stretch into antiquity. 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 out of the woods, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.


     

    Out of the woods means out of danger, removed from peril, free from difficulties. Out of the woods is an expression that is used when someone has been in some danger and is now safe, whether physically or figuratively. The phrase is sometimes used in the negative, as in not out of the woods, to mean that someone is still in peril but may soon be safe. Out of the woods and not out of the woods are very often used when describing someone’s health. From time immemorial, the forest has been a dangerous place for humans; it is usually dark with places that hide attacking animals and men. The idiom out of the woods came into use in English in the latter-1700s, though the idea of a metaphor equating emerging from the woods with exiting peril has been in use since ancient Roman times.

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    Examples

    “We won’t know if he’s out of the woods for a week or so.” (The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

    But after surgery, speaking Monday from his hospital bed at Ogden Regional Medical Center as he recuperates, he says he’s “out of the woods, maybe.” (The Standard-Examiner)

    But General Manager Gary Wiser told a reporter on Tuesday the North Logan business is “not out of the woods yet” when it comes to dealing with the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. (The Herald Journal)


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