Wake up and smell the coffee

Wake up and smell the coffee is an idiom that continues to grow in popularity. 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, common expressions, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the idiom wake up and smell the coffee, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

Wake up and smell the coffee is an admonition to face the truth, to pay attention to what is going on around one, to accept reality. The idiom wake up and smell the coffee is primarily an American expression and was in use in limited areas or as a colloquial use as early as the 1940s, but it was popularized in the 1960s and 1970s by Ann Landers. Ann Landers was an advice columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times whose writing was eventually syndicated throughout the United States. The phrase wake up and smell the coffee has continued to be a popular idiom.


Rosie, wake up and smell the coffee, because digital is the wave of the future for newspapers! (The Toronto Star)

“I’ve sent the same message to district colleagues to say we’ve got to wake up and smell the coffee – because if we don’t, we’re going to fall further behind,” County Cllr Ali said, praising the county’s “incredible talent”. (The Chorley Guardian)

Put in those terms, your CFO should finally wake up and smell the coffee. (USA Today)

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