Stop and smell the roses

Stop and smell the roses is an idiom that came into use in the mid-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 and popular expressions that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the idiom stop and smell the roses, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

The phrase stop and smell the roses is an admonition to slow down and enjoy life, to take the time to savor the beauty around you, to relax. The expression stop and smell the roses came into use in the 1960s and is a rephrasing of a sentiment found in an autobiography written by the golfer Walter Hagen: “Don’t hurry. Don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.” This passage was soon paraphrased as stop and smell the roses. Related phrases are stops and smells the roses, stopped and smelled the roses, stopping and smelling the roses.


“Everyone is so busy all the time, doing this and doing that, and I think this has given people a chance to stop and smell the roses.” (Volleyball Magazine)

Watching her work gave me an understanding of business, but also taught me to work hard, appreciate individuals, and to stop and smell the roses. (The San Antonio Business Journal)

The phrase “stop and smell the roses” is often used to tell someone to relax, take a beat and enjoy or appreciate the beauty of life. (The Sand Mountain Reporter)

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