Saturday, April 17, 2004


Ways of the world

Prerana Trehan

IN todayís world the importance of oneís social status cannot be overemphasised. A personís standing in society is often considered an indication of how successful he is. The many ways used to describe social rank not only add pep to gossip sessions, but also enrich the English language.

Be toffee-nosed: think you are better than other people, especially people of a lower social class.

My new neighbour is very toffee-nosed. It is no wonder she has such few friends.

Put on/give yourself airs and graces: act as if you belong to a higher social class than you really do.

He started off as a store salesman but now that he has gone up in the world, he canít stop giving himself airs and graces.

Pillar of society: a respectable and respected member of society.

Principal of our college was a pillar of society. His death is a big loss for all of us.

A rough diamond: a person who does not seem polished or sophisticated in his behaviour, although he has a good character.

He is a bit of a rough diamond, but I couldnít have asked for a better manager to look after my farm.

A down and out: someone who has no home, no job and no money.

He was a rich man once, but after a fire destroyed his factory, he has been reduced to a down and out.

Keep up appearances: hide personal or financial problems from other people by continuing to live and behave in the same way as you did earlier.

Ever since he lost his job he has been having financial problems but he still throws lavish parties to keep up appearances.

High-flier: someone who is doing very well in their area of work and keeps going up the ladder of success.

A high-flier in the world of business, he became President of the company within 10 years.

Make a name for yourself: become famous and respected.

Ekta Kapoor has made a name for herself as the queen of primetime on TV.

On your way up: rise to better positions.

Just one look at Irfan Pathanís bowling and it is obvious that he is on his way up in the cricketing world.

Up-and-coming: becoming more and more successful in a job.

With her book of short stories, she has made her presence felt as an up-and-coming writer.

New blood: new people in an organisation who are expected to provide new ideas.

An infusion of new blood in our public sector undertakings will do them a lot of good.

Keep a low profile: avoid attracting attention to oneself.

Karisma Kapoor is a private person. She has been keeping a low profile ever since she got married.

Anybody who is anybody: all the important people.

Anybody who is anybody was invited to the Chief Ministerís birthday bash.

The odd one out: different from others.

The only Indian in his companyís office in China, Aakash canít help feeling that he is the odd man out.

Politically correct: acceptable and non-offensive way of talking about particular social groups.

The politically correct way of referring to prostitutes is to call them commercial sex workers.


Answer the following:

If you were toffee-nosed, would you be popular?

Would you say that someone whose credentials as a good citizen were impeccable was a pillar of society?

Aarti likes to think of herself as an important person. Do you think she will feel insulted if she is not invited to a party where anybody who is anybody will be coming?

As a single woman in a small conservative town, would it be advisable for me to keep a low profile?

Would you think of your sister as a generous person if she always gave food to the down-and-outs?

Many movies are woven around the theme of families that have fallen on hard days but try their best to keep up appearances. Have you seen any such movie?

Is it politically correct to call people who cannot see blind?

If you turned up in casual attire for a party where everyone else was formally dressed would you feel like the odd one out?

(Reference: Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms)