The bridge is one of the most basic human concepts. A tiny child playing with sticks and puddles knows to build a bridge. Not surprisingly, the word bridge, as both noun and verb, has found its way into numerous idioms and expressions.
A bridge is a structure forming or carrying a road over a river, ravine, or the like in order to provide a passage between two points. The verb bridge is transitive.
Literally, one bridges rivers and gaps:
His first contract was to bridge the Monongahela River with an 8-span, 1500-foot-long bridge.
The first effort to bridge the gap [between Patna and Sonepur] was Rajendra Setu in 1959.
Figuratively, one bridges figurative gaps:
15 Ways to Bridge the Gap Between IT and Business
Can Academics Bridge the Gap Between the Academy and the Mainstream Reading Public?
Because bridges represent firm connections and safe passage, the noun bridge is used to denote anything that brings people of differing ideas and cultures together in a positive manner:
Turkish language a bridge to understanding
Service dogs provide a bridge for autistic children to connect with the world…
The noun bridge is also used to denote a transition or a cyber connection:
With the electronic forms server, our paperless e-forms solution creates a bridge between forms and an ECM/EDM system,
A Network Bridge is a hardware or a software [program] that connects two or more networks – maybe one a wired one and the other a wireless one – so that they can communicate with each other.
An expression commonly heard in planning sessions is “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” The meaning is that future problems must be dealt with as they arise. Sometimes it’s wise advice, but sometimes it’s an excuse for not planning for consequences.
Here are two more bridge idioms:
water under the bridge: something that has happened and cannot be changed.
For example, these headlines:
Cold War no longer water under the bridge as ships sail to Syria
Toledo May Say That ‘It’s Water Under the Bridge,’ but It’s Still Payback Time
like painting the Forth Bridge: an endless task.
The Forth Bridge, a cantilever railway bridge across the Firth of Forth in Scotland, is 8,296 feet long. The saying arose from the idea that by the time maintenance workers starting at one end of the bridge had finished painting it, the bridge would need repainting from the beginning. Here’s a recent use of the idiom:
Keeping one of Perthshire’s most spectacular mountains in top condition is like “painting the Forth Bridge”, the expert in charge of its care has said.
The most recent painting of the Forth Bridge took 400 men ten years to complete. This time they applied a triple layer of glass flake epoxy paint that is expected to last until about 2036.
The card game called Bridge has nothing to do with the kind that spans water. The game is thought to have originated in the Near East. The game’s name of Bridge may be an alteration of a Turkish word called out during play. This illustration in the OED shows the use of a strange word used by English-speaking bridge players in the 19th century:
The one declaring may, instead of declaring trumps, say ‘Biritch’, which means that the hands shall be played without trumps. J. Collinson Biritch 2 (1886).
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