Twist one’s arm

Twist one’s arm is an idiom that came into use in the 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 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 such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, in the same boat, bite the bullet, 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, as 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. We will examine the meaning of the idiom twist one’s arm, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

To twist one’s arm means to force someone to do something, to persuade someone to do something, or to apply psychological or social pressure to induce someone to do something. The idiom twist one’s arm conjures the image of physically twisting someone’s arm in order to make him give in to your demands. The idiom twist one’s arm came into popular use in the first half of the twentieth century. Related phrases are twist one’s arm, twisted one’s arm, twisting one’s arm.


“As a kid, I really didn’t like the sport and my dad never tried to twist my arm to get involved, even though he was a coach and owned his own club,” said Morales, who also spent considerable time observing her father at Brandeis, where he worked as an assistant fencing coach. (Tewksbury Town Crier)

There’s no need to twist my arm to dig into a plate of barbecue, redolent of smoke, heavy with sauce — meat cooked so long and slow that it literally, actually, truly falls off the bone. (Long Beach Press Telegram)

After I twisted his arm, he finally agreed to meet me in public. (The Huffington Post)

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