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Too much of a good thing

  • Too much of a good thing is an idiom that is been in use for 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 too much of a good thing, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

     

    Too much of a good thing means an excessive amount that becomes overwhelming or harmful, rather than helpful or pleasurable. In small amounts, the thing in question would be good for you or entertaining; in large amounts, the thing is harmful or a burden. For instance, one mango is delicious and nutritious. Fifty mangoes will cause a stomachache and diarrhea. Too much of a good thing is an idiom that dates back to the 1400s, though a famous example is found in William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, published in 1600: “Why then, can one desire too much of a good thing?”

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    Examples

    How to know when you’ve had too much of a good thing – from water to sunscreen (Mirror)

    When it comes to free money, Americans may be getting too much of a good thing. (New York Post)

    Like many things in life, mulch is also one of those things where too much of a good thing can turn out to be bad. (Columbus Telegram)


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