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Easy pickings

  • Easy pickings is an idiom that may not be as old as you think. 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 saying easy pickings, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

     

    Easy pickings is a noun phrase that refers to something that is easily taken or stolen, something that is easy to get through other means, or someone who is easily persuaded. The expression easy pickings did not come into use until the turn of the twentieth century; the popularity of the idiom soared during the latter half of the 1900s. It may refer to picking pockets, or it may refer to picking something at one’s leisure. When spoken, the “g” in pickings is often dropped in the idiom easy pickings.

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    Examples

    Miami will get healthy and turn the corner at some point, but they could be easy pickings for the red hot Nuggets tonight. (Sports Illustrated)

    Hatcher, of the IRS, warned that scammers, con-artists and grifters think those payments are easy pickings. (St. Thomas Source)

    The party is justifiably terrified that, in 2024, a failing President Joe Biden, or, by then, his radical successor will be easy pickings for a Trump resurgence, so Washington Democrats — and certain Republicans — are abusing the constitutional power of impeachment to prevent another Trump candidacy. (The Mercury)


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