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Sawing logs and sawing wood

  • Sawing logs and sawing wood are two expressions of the same idiom. Bring the house down and bring down the house are two versions of an idiom. 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. 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 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 phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. We will examine the definition of the phrases sawing logs and sawing wood, where these expressions came from and some examples of their use in sentences.


     

    To saw logs or to saw wood means to snore while one is sleeping. Sometimes, the phrases to saw logs and to saw wood are used simply to mean sleeping, whether or not one is snoring. The idioms are known to have been in use by the turn of the twentieth century, as comic strips of the time often show speech bubbles depicting a saw in a log or a piece of wood in order to indicate that the character is asleep and snoring. Presumably, the idioms saw logs and saw wood were in use long before this time, when the old saw that was powered by the sweat of a lumberjack or other woodworkers was in use. It is easy to understand the connection when one hears the blade of a hand saw cutting wood, especially when applied to the wood grain in a hardwood such as red oak, white oak, maple or walnut. Wood cutting through logs or lumber sounds like the buzzing snore of a man who is sleeping heavily. The need to cut logs and lumber in the eighteenth and nineteenth century for various types of woodworking was universal, and the sound of sawing was common. Related phrases are saws logs or saws wood, sawed logs or sawed wood, sawing logs or sawing wood.

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    Examples

    The start was a sleepy one, with the first puck dropped a little after 1 p.m. and the Blue Jackets still sawing logs. (The Columbus Dispatch)

    If you forget to come prepared—or find out too late that your buddy saws logs—this quick download will do the trick. (Outside Magazine)

    In addition to sleep medications, numerous devices are pedaled as the secret to sawing wood in peace. (The Fauquier News)


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