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The nature of the beast

  • The nature of the beast is an idiom that dates back hundreds of years. An idiom is a commonly used 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 common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, 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, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common idiom the nature of the beast, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

     

    The nature of the beast means the inherent quality of something or an essential facet of the character of something. The nature of the beast may refer to a person, thing, or situation. The idiom the nature of the beast first appeared in Collection of English Proverbs compiled by John Ray and published in 1678; it may be assumed that the phrase was used in a figurative sense before this time. It may also be assumed that the phrase the nature of the beast was originally used in a literal sense, before it became an idiom.

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    Examples

    “I imagine over time, it’ll turn back to its typical seasonality unless we change our behaviors, but that’s just sort of the nature of the beast.” (D Magazine)

    Benjamin declared the race as the “best race in Olympic history” and called his loss “the nature of the beast.” (New York Post)

    Some of these dynamics are clearer and stronger than others, but that’s the nature of the beast – waxing and waning connections are part of the human condition. (Maine Edge)


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