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Wolf in sheep’s clothing

  • A wolf in sheep’s clothing is an idiom that is thousands of years old. 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, 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 or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions that native speakers understand such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, chin up, eye to eye, barking up the wrong tree, hit the nail on the head, kick the bucket, 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. 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 a wolf in sheep’s clothing, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.


     

    A wolf in sheep’s clothing is someone who appears to be friendly and to be concerned with your best interest, but who actually has hidden motives to take advantage of you or use you in some manner. The idiom a wolf in sheep’s clothing has its origins in an Aesop fable, in which a wolf wears a sheep skin in order to blend into the flock of sheep and make hunting easier. The idiom wolf in sheep’s clothing is also found in the New Testament, Matthew 7:15: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” Notice that the word sheep’s is a possessive, and requires an apostrophe.

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    Examples

    Wasserman Schultz, asked about Republican Sen. Rick Scott’s recent effort to pass a TPS bill in the U.S. Senate with an amendment that overhauls the program to make it easier to end current designations, called Scott a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” (The Miami Herald)

    So, keep up to date with ways you can limit your consumption, get creative with what you have and be weary of the tempting world of fast fashion that is, truly, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. (The Daily Campus)

    “Never mind wolf in sheep’s clothing, Lady Hale is a rotweiler [sic] masquerading as a grandmother.” (The Washington Examiner)


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