To Kill a Mockingbird Idioms

acid tongue in her head Acid is very bitter in taste. Someone with an acid tongue is someone who tends to speak bitterly or sharply.
get Miss Maudie’s goat To get one’s goat is to make a person disgusted or angry
walked on eggs To walk very carefully
as sure as eggs Something that is as sure as eggs is a sure thing; it’s bound to happen; just as chickens are sure to lay eggs.
bowed to the inevitable An event or occurrence that is inevitable is one that cannot be stopped from occurring. To bow to the inevitable is to realize this fact and resist fighting it. ex: Atticus realizes that, sooner orlater, Scout and Jem would be given guns and be taught how to shoot, so he doesn’t try to fight it.
drew a bead on him To aim at or focus on a person.
on tenterhooks To be filled with suspense or anxiety.
set my teeth permanently on edge To set one’s teeth on edge is to annoy someone or make them feel nervous ex: the way Aunt Alexandra tends to annoy Scout
break camp pack up; move on. ex: in Scout’s case, Atticus is telling her to put her gun away and quit her game.
tooth and nail To fight tooth and nail is to fight that as fiercely as possible (literally with teeth and fingernails if necessary)
tribal curse a family curse or an affliction shared by members of a family. ex: many members of the Finch family seem to have had problems with their left eyes.
‘druthers: a contraction of the phrase “I’d rather.” Your ‘druthers is your choice or preference; it’s what you’drather do or have.
slow fuse someone who is not easily upset or angered
stood as much guff Guff is foolish or brash talk. ex: Jem has had all the foolish, rude talk about Atticus that he could stand
when the chips are down at the most important time. (in gambling games, a person puts chips or money downin front of him to show that he is willing to risk an amount in a bet.)
to scrape a few barnacles off the ship of state: 1. Barnacles are shellfish that attach themselves to ships that have been standing still in the water for a long time. 2. In order to maintain a boat or a ship, the barnacles must be scraped off. 3. The ship of state refers to the state government.The governor is saying that it is necessary to maintain and update (scrape a few barnacles off) the workings ofthe government (the ship of state).
traveled in state to travel in the position of a person of great wealth and rank.
he had seen the light he had become religious
blind spots a prejudice or area of ignorance that someone has but is unaware of ex: Mr. Cunningham’s blind spot is his prejudice against Tom Robinson.
counting his chickens Scout is referring to the first half of the proverb: “Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched,” which means don’t be too sure that something will happen before it does. ex: Although Jem seems to be certain that Atticus has won his case, Scout thinks he is counting his chickens, that he is too sure of something that may not happen.
guests of the county on public assistance or welfare
looked daggers: To look sharply at a person
give the lie to prove something to be false or untrue. ex: Scout is saying that the way in which Miss Stephanie and Miss Rachel are acting proves that Dill’s statements about them are not lies.
runner chicken leg
blue in the face: angry and upset; excited and emotional
fighting the good fight In the case of the ladies of the missionary circle, the good fight would be their work to aid missionaries around the world in their cause of converting people to Christianity.
wool Mrs. Merriweather is referring to her maid’s head or her hair. ex: “It’s never entered that wool of hers” is Mrs. Merriweather’s way of saying, “It’s never entered that head of hers.”
into the limelight To be put in a prominent position before the public. ex: In the theater, the limelight is an intense light thrown on stage in order to highlight an actor.
a hot steam the soul of a restless spirit that has some kind of account to settle before truly “resting in peace”

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