Two Inverted Idioms

By Maeve Maddox

As the residents of my state prepared for a cold front, one of the local television anchors remarked,

We are in store for a big chill.

His meaning was that extremely cold weather was about to descend upon us, but that is not what he said.

The word store in the idiom “in store for” means, “a stock of something laid up for future use.” Figuratively speaking, events or conditions (like a cold front) are “in store for” those who will experience them in the future. The people of the state were not in store for the big chill. The big chill was in store for the people of the state.

Here are some examples from the Web that get it right:

More Snow in Store for Turkey, Jerusalem This Weekend

The New Congress: What’s In Store for Natural Health?

That same television anchorman, reporting news about two businessmen, said,

They’re in the works of opening up two new restaurants.

The businessmen are not “in the works”; the two new restaurants are “in the works.”

One meaning of works (noun) is “the working parts of a machine.” For example, one removes the back of a clock to reveal the works inside.

“In the works” is a figurative expression meaning “being prepared” or “in development.”
The processes or stages of getting something done are being compared to the workings of a machine.

Here are some examples from the Web in which the expression is used correctly:

A new big solar panel farm in the works in California

Beamdog confirms that a new Baldur’s Gate game is in the works

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5 Responses to “Two Inverted Idioms”

  • AnWulf

    They’re in the works of opening up two new restaurants.
    I don’t see that this is wrong. One might as say that “in the works” means “in the process” … thus, if we put “in the process” insted of “in the works” we get They’re in the process of opening up to new restaurants. That makes good sense.

  • David Logan

    no native speaker of American English is going to be confused by this:

    We are in store for a big chill.

  • venqax

    Deer David Logan
    Your the bestest writer I ever seed.

    No native speaker of American English is going to be confused by that, either. It’s still wrong.

  • venqax

    One might as say that “in the works” means “in the process”
    One might say that it means that, but it doesn’t mean that. One might say “two” means “three” in which case 2 + 2= 6 makes sense, as well. The phrase “in the works” refers to endeavors, not to people undertaking them. Saying, “They’re in the works of” doing something is like saying, “They are on the drawing board with ideas”. The ideas are on the drawing board, not them.

  • Chris Richard

    Bravo, Vengax!
    I have heard people say “we are on the drawing board,” which is evidence of the pernicious influence sloppy public speakers have on the language. Another example would be the misuse of the adverb “hopefully,” as in “Hopefully, it won’t rain.” When this perversion slithered its way into the American vernacular, television babblers eagerly promoted it. Now it seems a permanent tic in the language. It is true that a language must evolve. But that doesn’t mean it should embrace sloppy thinking.

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